GSN: Intelligence Community To Ask Applicants And Employees About Their Ancestry And Ethnicity

Intelligence community to ask applicants and employees about their ancestry and ethnicity

By Jacob Goodwin, Editor-in-Chief

Published June 19th, 2009

Admiral Dennis Blair
Director of
Nat’l Intelligence

The Director of National Intelligence wants to ask job applicants and current employees in the U.S. intelligence community to identify their “ancestry” and “ethnicity” to enable personnel officers to assess their progress in recruiting and retaining U.S. citizens with knowledge of certain languages, cultures and societies.

Applicants and employees will be asked to identify their “country of origin” from a list of 58 different countries (plus “Other”); their “ethnicity” from a list of 71 possibilities – ranging from the familiar, such as Arab, Chinese, Jewish, Kurdish, Serb and Ukrainian, to the distinctly unfamiliar, such as Azeri, Banyakole, Dagestani, Kikuyu, Oromo, Tigre and Zhuag – and their “cultural expertise” from a list of 113 countries or ethnic groups, including relatively obscure ones, such as Circassian, Fulani, Hausa, Kpelle, Peuhl, Sara and Yezidi.

The ancestry and ethnicity data will be collected in addition to the personal information typically collected on Standard Form 181 to “assist the Intelligence Community in recruiting and retaining employees of various national, sub-national, cultural and ethnic backgrounds important to the Intelligence Community’s mission,” explained a notice posted in the Federal Register on May 11.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed information collection procedure until July 10 by visiting and citing “OMB Control No. 3440 – NEW,” but as of June 19, no comments have been submitted.

The Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, within the larger Office of the Director of National Intelligence (a position currently held by Admiral Dennis Blair), estimates that 50,000 applicants and employees in the intelligence community will respond to the ancestry and ethnicity query, and take about three minutes each to answer all three questions.

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