DESIGN FOR JET-AGE REPORTING

Created: 4/1/1960

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

MHBWWUffiviwlWBB

STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A coliccilon of articles on the historical. operational, doclrinai. and theoretical aspccU of intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of

the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.

a radical proposal forthe substance of routine rn-

forrnation report* from *r

lias and^ Mat

to

DESIGN FOR JET-AGE REPORTING William Earllng

Transmitting Information from its variegated and far-flung collectors to users In the complex Intelligence communityremendously complicated business. In ourat situation the natural complexity Is compounded by our having been content to handle nonpriority materialseans evolved with little change from communicationf the archaic past in separate departments and0 the few copies of dispatches from abroad required in Washington could be supplied by carbon copies typed in anassy and forwarded by ship pouch. The onlye have introduced for routine reports since then are to use mats or stencils Instead of carbon paper and to forwardy air Instead of by sea

Given the vastly increased volume of reporting, thisn means of transportation has not been able toet slow-down In the flow of information. DispatchesUU directed back to parent departments in Washington through many separate channels. There are departmental reviews, revisions, retypings, reproduction. Mall rooms and secretariats distribute them to other interested departmentsnd agencies, which in turn route them by messenger tocomponents. At every stage they queue up in front of logs and registers. The average transmission time for routine reports has come to be measured in months, and some stray documents take moreear to make their way through the maze.

It is true that tbe community Is not suffering critically from delay in receipt of priority Information transmitted by radio and cable. Although much of our rapidons system Is also archaic, radical improvements have been

saawr

for ffeponm

made In some segments. Others are needed and possible, bxM this article will limit Its concern to routine dispatchesnformation reports. For them weew, much faste system, though not necessarily so fast or so expensive as to cables.

The model Intelligence reporting system would connect si components of the community through one integrated corn muni cations network. This network would have the capac ity to move all intelligence from reporter to consumer within say,ours. It would have standard, streamlined, auto matic procedures for handling Information at both ends of th line, with no room for backlogs, personalrocessing delay.

This model Is something we can aim at, but we mustome modest and practical beginning. Let us then examln the designot too expensive system to speed the sluggisl flow of information reports from overseas perhaps not fifty fold but ten. Most analysts would find It not bad to be sun of getting all routine information, down to the lowest priorityeek of Its dispatch.

Triplicate Problem

The time required for the many processing steps thatbetween reporter andime exponentially increased with volume as each report waits its turn at each processing station. Is central to our problem, but It Is not tbf whole problem. If we concentrate on the mechanics of getting pieces of paper from point to point as fast as possible without considering their substantive purport we are ignoring one side of the coin. That the current volume of reporting isour ability to handle and use it effectively is manifest not only in unacceptable delays but in consumer complaints that they receive too many reports they do not need while falling to receive information they do need. Collecting components retort that consumers fall to let them know through standard evaluation procedures which of their reports are useless and to keep them informed through the standard placing ofprecisely what isack ofbetween the two elements is evident

Deiign For

It is clear that better guidance would improve the quality and reduce the volume of *er^

of better material could in turn be handled more speedily. Formal collection requirements alone cannot do the Job:ungry analyst writes his requirements loosely in ordere sure of getting everything that bears on his subject, andthe avid reporter in the field will find some bearing on some requirement in almost everything. Nor is the presentevaluation procedure sufficient to the purpose: tn an of8 CIA, for example, received onlypontaneousof its CS reports, and of those rendered onrequest most were too slowan average six months up to almost two years inbe useful asbasis for corrective action. What Is needed is some newern for rapid and frequent user criticism of individualn order to point up good material and weed out at the source any Information below the level of significance for thecommunity.1

A third facet of our problem, bearing both on the delay of Information and on the analyst's dissatisfaction with what does show up in his ln-box. Is the practice of successiveemination through organizational channels, through office or division and branch or section to the individualentral mechanized dissemination direct to individuals would save time, but Air Intelligence experiments with such an automatic system3 Indicatereat deal of excess paper Is pumped into the milltraight-faced, undiscrinuhating machine presented with Imprecisely defined userif we can find some way to pinpoint in machineexactly what each individual analyst requires, weive him more nearly what he wants and give It to him faster.

' For earlier treatments of this problem see William p. Bundv.of IntelligencendDonielgh, "Spy at Tour Service.tudies JJJescribed by Paul A. Borel, "On Processing Intelligence Informs- , p. 3Z. For other aspects of mecbaniied Air In-

t*lllgence information handling see two articles In the series oa "DeTelopments la Abuttcn j.Data Ban- I

dungtudies illnd Kenneth T. Johrstan'u'tr-stFtx^

"Progress and Future.

!

for Re;

The problem ishiee-foldspeed tr and processing of reports, to improve by guidance the of reporting, and to make dissemination faster and mote sponslve to precise individual wants. These needs are tot related In somethingicious circle: delayed and in criminate distribution of reports to users breeds delay in ting evaluations of them back to the originators; user terest In outdated information extends to disinterest in menting on it; lack of evaluative comment means more discriminate reporting andreaterf reports produces still more delay. If we can si{ cut the transmission and processing time and better our dissemination, users will better recognize then: own terest in feeding back substantive appreciations to the tor; and the collector will be enabled by prompt user ment to stop wasting his precious manpower on marginal subrnarginal operations and spurred to concentrate it on ductlve enterprises.

Design for Speed

The design here exhibitedew system to cope wit this triple problem was developed for experimentation on th CS reports of CIA. One of its central featuresoll of per forated paper tape. In Its most familiar form it Is tbe tap produced by the perforator unit9 leletyp machine, with Its rows of up to five holes in different positlc combinations, eachetter or function punchc* on the keyboard of the machine. When this tape is fed int9 Uansmirter-dlstributor each perforation produce an electrical impulsehannel corresponding to its posi tion, and these impulses are used toage printer,esired produce an identical tape, at the other endele phone line or radio circuit.

A postwar development, the flexowriter, has adapted th tape communicator principle to the electric typewriter witl Its richer keyboard and smaller print. An increase In th number of Impulse channels and corresponding perforaUot positions on the tope permits enough additional combination! to carry both capital and lower-case letters and some char acters and functions, such as semicolons and tobulaUon^toal the teletype machine cannot perform. Fjrperimentally wt

Design for Reporting

can use either9odified flexowriter in our design,

but8it crude for^ finished reports and the ad-

vantages of the flexowriter are largely vitiated by bur need

to stick to Ave channels in order to keep the tope compatible

with other communications equipment. Both machines are

too noisy. New taoe^ptcducing typewriters are being devel- ,

oped which will suit us better than either of these.

It Is not that we are proposing electric transmission of all routine information reports, not yet at any rate. But we are borrowing many features from cable procedure, andystem will if necessary be immediately convertible, in whole or in part, to one using electric means.

The prepared tape can be automatically scrambleduite meaningless pattern of perforations. Thus encrypted,it is secure for radio transmission or, in our design, forailine by whatever means is fastest In practice, thisill probably be tbe unaccompanied State Department pouchIf arrangements are made to get it on tbe first availableithout waiting for other material to accumulate: theouch cannot be bumped by the air lines and is not heldn customs. The tape should take sometimes as little as one day to reach its consignee, rarely more than three.

In the experimental procedure,outine CSs typed In the field, beginning with its operational coverope-producing typewriter. The report will be in theompromise between cable and dispatch format, inwhich the analyst willew days, we hope, find It on his desk; tbe firstyping will be the only one in allxceptional Instances. Form headings and otheraterial need not be so typed eventandardarrying them can simply be run through. Carbonsat In the printer will take care of local disseminationecord copies.

Encrypted and pouched, the tope bypasses in effect all registries In the field and incarbon bysual accompanied pouch will satisfy theirIsivered withause for automatic decryption to tbe CIA Cable Secretariat The Secretariat operates day and night .

With its own courier service and whatever'stafT Is necessary i

SKRBT

Design For Repo-nV,

to get cables to their users within an hour or two of receipt, It hasy^cc^ye procedurea^and this bit of borrowing on our part from cable usage will be Impcr tant both materially and psychologically. In the Secretaria the unscrambled tape Is runrinter, typing original and carbons of the operational cover sheet, mat and carbons of the report

Responsibility for releasing the report, however, still rests with the controlling area desk, and that for indicating itsemination belongs Jointly to the desk and to CIA Centralentral Reference expert will be on duty in the Secretariat, and as soon as the mat is typed he will read it against user requirements and note on its face the proper recipients, as far as possible individual analysts. In thecarbons of the report, along with the original and carbons of its cover sheet, have gone to the area desk. If it can be released without further ado. It goes back immediately,umber and showing the addressees prescribed by the desk, to be added to Central Reference's designations, it requires consultation, comment, or correction, it is held upay or so, for these. There will be check-up and Inquiry about overdue releases.

Back in the Secretariat, the report number, cttssemination instructions, desk comments, and minor corrections can easily be added either on the mat or to the tape, and the tape can eitherew mat or be fed by teletype to tbe consumer. At some future date the whole community may be sufficiently linkedecure teletype network that most of the distribution can be accomplished by feeding thetape into It. Considering the usual needourier at the receiving end of the teletype line, however, courier service from the Secretariat direct to individuals like that in present use for cables might be at least as fast for manyWhen therearge number of recipients at one location, as at the Pentagon, the tape and teletype might be used toatentral cable center there, say tbe Army Staff Communications Office, which could then make distribution to Army, ASA, Air Force, Joint Chiefs, andof Defense <& Wrir

Design For Reporting

Field preparation of the tape may haveay.

portation as mucfajfts three..Secretariat .processing

another, desk release and distributionouplethe user analyst gets his Information It will probably

be no moreeek old. He could get It faster only

a large-scale and costly introduction of new radio and

circuits with advanced terminal equipment. Field officescontrolling headquarters desks will find not only their

reporting but also their considerably greater volume ofcorrespondence all moving at this speed

Design for Guidance and Coordination

This sp^cd alone will help feed back to the source anthe usefulness of bis Information, but as we havenew medium is needed for communication from userthe originators of reports. Weewcenteredormeadline for return. will calluick appraisal by the analyst of the value,and adequacy of each report In meeting his require-with ideas on bow it could have been made moreshould like eventually also to get here the analyst's com- on its subject-coding. Information which should inup to yield greater precision in stating requirements, dissemination, and retrieving documents from stor-

Comments on subject-coding would not be possibleresent procedures: Information reports as now disseminated have not yet been coded But In our system the Central Reference expert on duty in the Cable Secretariat whoeport to determine its proper recipients could also assign it ISC and area codes. If the mterposition of this step before dissemination seems an added complication when we aretoeport to its users as fast as possible, it would not really take extra time, and the pay-off in getting analysts to think In terms of the codes and in making Central Reference aware of analysts' criteria for coding should be enormous.

Tbe evaluation form will accompany reports sent to those analysts whose feedback Is worth exploiting, the specialists

concerned with the subject matter reported, those

for writing collection requirements on tV'tbose'whose'

HCRcT

Design For Reports

will suffer If LriformaUon is not adequately retrievable becam of impreciset standsjto reason that^helr coopentlon will be quickly rewarded by receipt of fewer report which are of no Interest to them, by retrieval of filed mat rials they need in research, and by the more direct and effe tire contact with collectors made possible by their response!

The form will be designed for simple answers and multiple choice checks both for the convenience of the analyst and tJ facilitate later processing. In past experience, more thai half of the elaborate old evaluation forms are returned witi check marks only, no substantive comments whatever. Fo the most part, therefore, punched-card processing of the nc forms will eliminate carbon or reproduced copies and obviat manual sortings and distribution. One operator can puncl six to eight hundred forms onto cardsay. All derive products, except those including lengthy analyst comment will be tailor-made machine tabulations.

Feedback for Coders

Every theoretical discussion of retrieval problems brings] out the Inevitable human limitations In the coding process Central Reference document analysts are not omniscient uni versa! geniuses; in assigning the apparently pertinent codesl they are bound to overlook or not to be aware of angles undei which retrieval might in the future become necessary. This Is the primary criticism leveled at the present library system by personnel using it. The Intelligence Subject Code, espe daily with the refinement of Its current revision, will be splendid Instrument, useful exactly to the point to which coders properly foresee the headings under which material may need to be recovered, but no further.

The better and more widely known tbe ISC, the more It directly used and contributed to by experts In their various fields, the better the retrieval system. If when its revision is complete we couldpace on the evaluation form for analysts to suggest coding in other categories than thoseby Central Reference, analysts would become more fa-

for cxnmple George W. Wright,ederal Intelligencetudies II.ndorei. "On ProwMing Intel-Ugenootudies UJ

Design For Reporting

miuar with the coding systems, and any analyst who receiveds report could take care of his own interests by thus norni-it nating the appropriate codes.

Mechanically, the additional entries could be referred to Central Reference coders in weekly tabulations. These could show report numbers, the additional codes proposed forod the names of the contributing analysts. They couldrranged by document or ISC number or in whatever order would be most conducive to Integrating them into the system after any necessary discussion with the proponents.

Once this feedback process had been under way forime and analysts had become used to it. it Is hoped they would develop such confidence in the ability of theparticularly as mechanisation provides increasingly reliable and rapidretrieve what they need that they would be willing to dispense with the bulk of their own holdings of Indexed documents. Without participation in therocess we believe this confidence could not be established, j

Feedback for Disseminators

If we are to achieve the speed and efficiency ofisseminationentral point direct tonalysts, their individual requirements, as we have noted,ave to be stated with precision and kept up to dateeedback system suitable for mechanization. Underystem, dissemination can take place by ISC subjectnd the assignment of codeseport wouldndicate its dissemination. But coded requirements ass coded reportsrerequisite forechanized !

The analyst will be property skeptical that his subtle

can ever be fully stated in machine language, and

some unusual spot requirements will have to be bandied

side any mechanical system. But most requirements can

sufficiently codified to take care of the great routine bulk

odified statement of an analyst's

ments may be derived In the first instance by tabulating

responseeriod of some months to key questions

the evaluation form for all the reports he received, along

their assigned subject codes. Document analysts could

Dttign For Reporfi

this tabulationentative Statement of Requlr meets, to be refined In discussion with tbe analyst concernaJ The resultant agreed Statement of Requirements'would bj used as the basis for current dissemination to him, and could be kept up to date by the continuing feedback of bi| evaluations.

This feedback system, properly used, will tend to give thJ analyst and his supervisor direct control over the volumJ of information delivered to bis In-basket The supervisor Is az) Interested party because of bis responsibility for an equitabli distribution of workload to his subordinates, inaosj difficult task. Most supervisors cany their own workload: and do not inspect their subordinates' In-baskets at regulaf Intervals. Tabulations of the evaluation form by name could* provide them every week or at any convenient intervalist of the reports their subordinates took in and their re] actions to them. This tool mightonsiderable aid proper workload distribution.

Feedback for Collectors

Most of the questions on the form will be designed to guldej the collector. Headquarters can use the answers,Into punched card systems covering operational data* sources, project numbers, and lists of requirements, toush the field, in tabulations by station or base and soured cryptonym. the evaluations placed on all of their reports^ matched up against requirements levied on the station. Hi quarters desks and staffs will be able, In their planning and] control functions, to use not only these but other tabulations, for example listings by project and source of reports and) their evaluations, lists by requirement numbers of evaluated reports responsive to requirements,ariety of statist! cal compilations.valuations run consistently highow-cost source, there will be little question about the renewal of his operation. Adverse reactions will provide an indication to the desk and staffituation needs to be looked into. User rejections will not be drowned in the stack ofear in the project renewal process, but win lead to an examination of all pertinent facts and tbe promptof marginal operations. Desk and staff personnel will be

Design For Reporting

freed from the routine bookkeeping chores now requiredtrack of-field

Prom Prototype to Production Model

This design for speed and guidance has undergone limited tests on the reportingajor field station, and It has been found to produce at least the short-term benefitsIt is still in the prototype stage, however, subject to modification in more extensive testing planned asbecomes available. It may be that new technological developments, for example photographic or magnetic tapeprocesses now being investigated, will make major changes desirable. In any case it will require adaptation to varying local needs in the field before it can be generallyto the reporting of even this Agency.

There will be many obstacles to the integration of theof the whole communityingle system. They will have to be tackled slowly, and piecemeal. The easiestwill probably be on the receiving end, with theof rapid dissemination and the application of some better evaluation system in those agencies, notably Airthat employ the Intelligence Subject Codeare now under way to standardize the format of allreporting. For all its tentative and limited nature, our design doesasic concept and may embody some specific features that can lead to an ultimate Integratedsystem.

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA