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Waters Amendment Requiring Report on Diversity in Intelligence Community Accepted by House

May 12, 2011
Press Release

The House of Representatives adopted an amendment offered by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) today to H.R. 754, Intelligence Authorization Act. The Congresswoman's amendment requires the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to report to Congress on racial and ethnic diversity in the intelligence community. She offered the following statement from the House floor in support of her amendment:

"A diverse workforce is essential to intelligence work.  People from a variety of backgrounds bring a variety of perspectives to the table to understand the world in which we live.  A diverse workforce provides intelligence agencies critical insights into different cultures around the world where information about potential threats to our national security is being collected and analyzed.

"Many leading intelligence officials understand the importance of a diverse workforce.  The website of the Central Intelligence Agency includes the following statement:

"In order for the CIA to meet our mission of protecting our national security interests, we need to employ a workforce as diverse as America itself—the most diverse nation on earth.  Diversity reflects the unique ways we vary as Intelligence Officers—our nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, age, language, culture, sexual orientation, education, values, beliefs, abilities, and disabilities.  These assorted attributes create different demographic, functional, and intellectual views, which are so vital to our innovation, agility, collection, and analysis."

"CIA Director Leon Panetta had this to say:

"In virtually every aspect of our mission, CIA relies on diversity for success. We operate in a wide range of environments and tackle an even wider range of problems. If we all look the same, our mission suffers. If we all think the same, failure is certain. To reach our full potential as an intelligence service, we must draw from the same source of strength that makes America great: the limitless energy and creativity inherent in the diversity of its people."

"Unfortunately, there is virtually no data available to Congress and the public regarding the degree of racial and ethnic diversity in the intelligence community.  The most recent publicly available report that discusses this subject is a 1996 report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) on personnel practices at intelligence agencies, which focused on equal employment opportunity practices.  The report concluded that intelligence agencies have workforce diversity programs but results lag behind other federal agencies.

"This report was written more than five years before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and fifteen years before the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Needless to say, both the intelligence community and the world in which it operates have changed tremendously since then. 

"My amendment states that within 180 days after the enactment of this bill, the Inspector General shall submit to Congress a report on the degree to which racial and ethnic minorities in the United States are employed in professional positions in the intelligence community and barriers to the recruitment and retention of additional racial and ethnic minorities in these positions.  The amendment requires that the report be submitted in unclassified form but allows the Inspector General to include a classified annex.

"It is long past time for Congress to reevaluate the diversity of the intelligence community's workforce. 

"I urge my colleagues to support my amendment."