Skip to content

Search the site

Wanted: Chief Data Officer for the US intelligence community

Enjoy dealing with projects with “ill-defined requirements, ambiguity and high risks."

Want a crack at one of the most significant IT jobs in the US federal government? Think you have what it takes to marshal the systems processing the combined data of the entire US intelligence community?

Then the Chief Data Officer role at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) may be for you -- although you'll need an appetite to "lead and manage complex computer engineering projects or programs that may have ill-defined requirements, ambiguity, parallel tasks, multiple dependencies, high risks, and multiple interfaces."

The role is only open to US federal government employees able to obtain top secret clearance. (ODNI won’t help with this.) Beyond that small hurdle, the role is a compelling one: the ODNI CDO will be in charge of overhauling the office’s IT architecture and developing its strategy to make use of data brought in from the intelligence community in what sounds like a role that straddles more of a chief architect as a well as a CDO one.

The ODNI is a coalition of 18 agencies and organizations, including the ODNI, within the Executive Branch that work "both independently and collaboratively to gather and analyze the intelligence necessary to conduct foreign relations and national security activities" -- it has three primary centres, across counter-proliferation, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism. The role comes as the ODNI said in 2019 that "the pace at which data are generated, whether by collection or publically available information (PAI), is increasing exponentially and long ago exceeded our collective ability to understand it or to find the most relevant data with which to make analytic judgments."

The role calls for extensive experience with the ODNI and the intelligence community (IC), along with the ability to conduct technical research. The CDO will need to "coordinate the development of new data management and applications capabilities; provide technical expertise in data architecture; document and design specifications for data/software engineers; produce prototypes to demonstrate enterprise scalability and implementation of design; provide broad technical guidance to staff; and... supervise a small government and/or contractor staff."

Salary is a maximum of $176,300, far below what a qualified applicant might expect in the private sector. But then, the private sector doesn’t get to build the IT systems straddling the US intelligence apparatus.

The role is based in McLean, Virginia – home to the CIA’s Langley headquarters. Though we suspect there might also be a certain amount of travel to Utah, where the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center (pictured above) is based -- the snappily-named home to the IC’s main IT infrastructure, managed by the NSA. If you fit all the requirements, and fancy the cat-herding which no doubt comes with trying to fulfil all of the demands of the IC and the federal government, we wish you good luck.

Follow The Stack on LinkedIn