Reflections: Policy Makers and Social Science — Distant & Lacking Value-Added Decision-Support

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Robert David STEELE Vivas
Robert David STEELE Vivas

Carnegie and the Stimson Center are exploring the distant and largely dysfunctional relationship between policy makers and the social sciences. This is an important topic that could usefully be expanded to explore the similar distance between government and the other information tribes.*

Below are two seminal references in this area.

Carnegie Stimson National Security Programs Supporting Social Science in Academia

Carnegie Stimson Article As Published

Based on reading the two above references, I have three preliminary thoughts pending an invitation conference on this topic to take place 30-31 January (I am attending as an observer):

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01 The US Government (USG) appears to have no national information strategy and particularly no national information acquisition strategy in support of whole of government operations. Such elements of the government as may contract for academic support do so from a research perspective, rather than a decision-support perspective. The USG as whole does not know how to “do” decision-support” using the proven process of intelligence (requirements definition, collection management, acquisition, processing, analysis, presentation in tailored actionable form).

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02 Outreach in the USG does not exist — this is hugely important as a means of tapping into deep knowledge that is free for the asking — never mind all the foreigners thinking in 183 languages we do not speak — we our out of touch with our own citizens — for example, the 1,500 professors of Middle Eastern culture, history, and language that do *not* have security clearances). There is no strategy, policy, acquisition plan, or even a technical communications plan. As is the case in the secret world, government employees are “assumed” to be staying in touch with their domains, and in fact are not doing so. Even when an element of the USG is specificially responsible for acquiring unclassified information (a US Embassy, for example), it ends up collecting “at best” 20% of what is available and relevant, and then spills 80% of that (net result: 2% accessible at the inter-agency level)*

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03 Although OMB and GAO are in theory responsible for determining whether decisions made by the USG are evidence-based, in fact the USG does not hold its officials accountable for “due diligence” in the decision-support arena.  More methodical investigation is required, but as best I can tell, decisions are based on political accommodations that are directed by financial interests far removed from the public interest — for example, devoid of true cost economic appraisals and generally oriented toward satisfying the recipients of taxpayer funds rather than the taxpayers themselves.

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A great deal of work remains to be done. While I and a handful of others have known for some time that one of the constructive answers is an Open Source Agency (OSA)  — with the significant expansion of my own vision from Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to now cover the nurturing of Open Source Everything (OSE) — it is only now that “business as usual” is seen by a majority of citizens — and by all political elements outside the two-party bi-opoly that borrows a trillion a year to fund its persistent malfeasance — to no longer be affordable.

IO Strategy StepsSenator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (RIP) taught me that it takes 25 years to achieve great goals. In my view, the past 25 years of proponency for the OSA have been pre-quel. The real work begins now. Eventually we should be able to create a competent honest government that makes decisions at every level across every mission area on the basis of open ethical evidence-based decision-support, augmented very selectively by secret decision-support and secret counterintelligence. We are at the end of the era industrial era top-down governance and “rule by secrecy.” We are at the beginning of the era of the Smart Nation, in which hybrid public governance (all eight tribes sharing information and sharing the burden of sense-making) enabled by open-source decision-support.

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* Apart from academic and government, the other information tribes are civil society (including labor unions and religions), commerce (especially small business), media (including bloggers), military (especially the company grade officers and enlisted ranks), and non-government/non-profit.

** My first graduate thesis created an original model for analyzing revolution across political-military, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, techno-demographic, and natural-geographic domains.  I gathered 23 others to create the Earth Intelligence Network and define the global analytic model because no one else does that today. My second graduate thesis examined strategic information (mis) management acrossthree Country Teams where I worked (and their home agencies), and derived the percentages cited above.

See Also:

2014 Robert Steele on Intelligence Reform

2010 PhD Author Dissects Intelligence Reformer Robert Steele [Click on Cartoon for 5 Pages]

Robert Steele Biography & Linked Publications