Simmons and others said that Negroponte's first step should have been to put the open-source information-gathering effort on steroids, so he could truly understand what was known about the threats he is most worried about. Then he could have chosen the blueprint that could best fill the gap between what was known through public sources and what the president needs to know to make key national security decisions.
Another approach, recommended by the 9/11 Commission, would limit the number of people working directly under Negroponte and have him focus instead on managing the agencies under his umbrella -- moving personnel and programs among them to better match the threats facing the country. Critics of the old intelligence bureaucracy had envisioned a considerable flood of new blood and ideas streaming into the intelligence agencies under Negroponte's leadership, Lehman said. Instead, Negroponte's office has been largely staffed with people already working within the intelligence agencies.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in today's Ideas section about intelligence reform omitted the first reference to Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA management official, along with his comment that spy chief John D. Negroponte has a difficult job ahead of him.
The Sun regrets the error.
Similarly, UCLA's Zegart, who has a business consulting background, said that if Negroponte wants to fix his human spying capacity to fit post-Cold War threats and get the intelligence agencies to work together, he has to change recruiting practices.
The current recruiting process "weeds out the people we want the most," she said, referring to Americans who speak Middle Eastern languages and have extensive overseas ties.
Others say that one straightforward but difficult change would make all the difference: giving Negroponte funding power for the agencies under him. Most of the intelligence agencies are still funded and run by the Pentagon, and Negroponte has vague authority to "direct" their budgets.
"Unless you really have the purse strings and the ability to place your own people in these positions that report to you, [change] is a very tough sell," said John Rollins, a former top intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department.