Post-WikiLeaks, agencies to measure feds' happiness

Thursday - 1/6/2011, 2:32pm EST

Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent, NBC

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How happy are you?

In the wake of the WikiLeaks scandal, the Office of Management and Budget is telling agencies with classified documents to test their employees' happiness and job satisfaction. The goal is to prevent future insider threats.

A memo by OMB director Jacob Lew suggests agencies use psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the "relative happiness" of workers or their "despondence and grumpiness" as a way to assess their trustworthiness.

Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent at NBC, said such directives are standard for organizations like the CIA. But when applied to all agencies with classified documents, "It's a pretty broad brush," Isikoff said. "And a lot of people think this is an overreaction."

According to the OMB memo, the director of the Information Security Oversight Office and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will coordinate with OMB to evaluate that agencies are meeting the requirements of assessing employees.

The attached memo from the two security offices states initial assessments should be completed by Jan. 28. These assessments include:

  • What each agency has done or plans to do about perceived weaknesses in the "post-WikiLeaks environment."
  • Plans to address those weaknesses.
  • Plans to upgrade classified networks.
  • Documents for security, counterintelligence and information assurance.

The memo asks agencies how they measure behavioral changes in employees, including "metrics for 'trustworthiness' without alienating employees."

Isikoff said this "crackdown" will affect nearly all agencies because "there's classified documents in virtually any agency in the federal government."

He added that there is "a big disconnect with the openness and transparency rhetoric when President Obama took office and what we've seen in reality."

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