The best Government Job Source

Intelligence Research and Intelligence Operations Specialists

Significant Points

This series includes positions concerned with advising on, administering, supervising, or performing work in the collection, analysis, evaluation, interpretation, and dissemination of information on political, economic, social, cultural, physical, geographic, scientific, or military conditions, trends, and forces in foreign and domestic areas that directly or indirectly affect the national security. These positions require a basic knowledge and understanding of one or more of the natural or social sciences, engineering, or military science, but do not demand, as a primary qualification requirement, full knowledge of the current state of the art.

Nature of the Work


The following terms have specialized meanings as applied to intelligence work and used in these standards:

Raw intelligence means data which are unevaluated or unanalyzed from an intelligence standpoint and which may be derived from a variety of sources.

Finished intelligence means the product resulting from the collection, evaluation, analysis, integration, and interpretation of all available information which concerns one or more aspects of conditions in foreign nations or in functional areas such as power, transportation, etc., and which is immediately or potentially significant to planning. It may be in written, graphic, or oral form.

When the two terms described above are applied to the work of a specific intelligence activity, it will be seen that the finished intelligence product of one activity can become raw intelligence for another activity with a different mission. These terms are used in this standard in the context of the work of the intelligence activity under consideration.

Finished intelligence falls into three functional categories: Basic descriptive intelligence, current-reportorial intelligence, and speculative-estimative intelligence.

Basic-descriptive intelligence is often of an encyclopedic detailed nature and usually embodies information of a long-term background nature. It may be a survey of a country which includes its geographical, economic, military, and political situation, or it may be a survey of, for example, the world's clay resources and their rate of use.

Current-reportorial intelligence is contemporary information on the up-to-the-minute situation in a foreign country or area. It may, for example, cover the implications of a recent election, revolution, coup d'etat. Its purpose is to keep policy and decision makers currently informed.

Speculative-estimative intelligence focuses primarily on projecting what future conditions will be. For example, what will be the effect on the policy of her surrounding neighbors if a certain nation builds up her defensive armament? How will that country's position on a given issue effect what her allies will do?


The intelligence activities of the Federal Government are carried on under the direction and coordination of a central agency. Most of the finished intelligence is produced by the intelligence organization of the various departments which make up what is known as "the intelligence community." Each of these activities produces finished intelligence for use in accomplishing its own objectives. This type of intelligence is generally known as departmental intelligence. At the same time many members of the intelligence community contribute to the central agency finished intelligence (in their own area of activity) for overall intelligence reports. This type of intelligence is generally known as national intelligence. From time to time, members of the intelligence community procure services by private contract.

Intelligence reports are produced to provide information on which officials responsible for planning or administering Government programs can base action related to the national security. They may be initiated by a request for information from such officials. The information desired may be in the realm of factual, statistical, or other concrete data. For example, what was the production of chariots for fiscal '92 in Assyria? (Assyria does not release information of this sort); who is Marcus Claudius, the man who has just engineered a coup d'etat in Babylon and what is his political backing? or what are the operational characteristics of the new Etruscan sling shot? It may be of a more speculative nature: What percentage of the gross national product of Etruria will be devoted to offensive armament five years from now? What are the reactions of the prime minister of Babylon toward a certain proposal likely to be? In what direction is Assyrian chariot research tending?

Frequently, a departmental intelligence activity may receive an item of raw intelligence which, in itself, appears insignificant. When it is related to other known information, the item assumes a different significance. As a result, the intelligence organization may initiate a research project which will culminate in an intelligence report filling out or completing the body of information.


The intelligence process, regardless of the mission of the intelligence organization involved, includes the following steps:

1. Collection. -- This includes planning the collection effort, developing collection guides and evaluating and analyzing collection results. Raw data are derived from overt or covert sources of information overseas, from returned travelers, from published material acquired either overseas or domestically, or from monitored foreign broadcasts.

2. Production. -- This accumulation of data is continuously reviewed and analyzed and stored for future reference. Through the review and analysis, gaps in information are discovered, and are filled to the extent possible. As requested by policy and decision-making officials, or as prompted by the analysis of existing data, finished intelligence studies, reports, and surveys synthesizing, interpreting, or projecting this information are produced.

3. Dissemination. -- Raw intelligence and finished intelligence reports are of no use unless they are received by the audience which has need for them. Because of the nature of the intelligence process, any given information may be of use and value to the other members of the intelligence community and to any number of policy makers in numerous locations throughout the Federal Government. Therefore, an essential part of the intelligence process is the distributing of raw and finished intelligence so as to assure that the information reaches not only the organization requesting it, and for which it was originally designed, but also all others in the intelligence community who may have an interest in it.

While all intelligence organizations carry out the same process, each organization is geared toward producing departmental and sometimes national intelligence within its own sphere of operations. For example, the organization whose major function is the issuance of overseas information conducts an intelligence operation concerned with assessing the effects of its own program and also the propaganda efforts of other nations. Likewise, there is an intelligence operation organized around obtaining information about geography, another around communications systems and devices, another around atomic energy, etc.


The intelligence occupation includes two different kinds of work: (1) intelligence research and analysis and (2) work connected with the organization of activities for the collection of raw intelligence and the dissemination of finished intelligence.

In the discussion of these two kinds of work, the following terms are used with specialized meanings for these standards only:

Professional discipline means a branch of knowledge such as is usually taught in a college or university. It includes recognized fields in social science, natural science, military science, and engineering.

Subject-matter field means a specialization within the field of intelligence research or operations. A subject-matter field may be recognized on a country or regional basis, a functional basis such as power, transportation, political movements, or on an intelligence operational basis such as collection techniques, or liaison operations. Organizations whose intelligence mission is in a functional field such as transportation may organize their research activities into geographic areas by country or region or into functional areas of transportation such as air, sea, or land.

Intelligence research

Intelligence research and analysis include the evaluation of collected information, drawing of pertinent inferences from its analysis, and interpretation of such inferences in keeping with the requirements of officials responsible for planning or for making policy decisions. Much of this work is performed within one or another of the natural sciences, social sciences, military science, and engineering fields.

Characteristics of intelligence research

In applying the principles of intelligence research, an incumbent assembles, collates, and analyzes separate bits of information from a variety of known and unknown sources, gathered under known and unknown conditions. He assesses their validity and reliability and, on the basis of all of the information known to him, estimates what the characteristics of a specific situation may be and predicts its effects upon future events. His judgment is often based upon less than full and sometimes barely adequate information because that is all the data there are, or because the time at his disposal is limited. Decision makers and policy planners must act, and the researcher may not refuse to offer a judgment; the imposed deadline must be met. The amount of time devoted to a piece of research is governed by when the results are needed rather than by the nature of the riddle to be solved.

There is another characteristic of intelligence research which has a significant effect upon recruitment. This is the anonymity associated with the work. Like many other kinds of research papers, the finished intelligence report is often not a one-man product; it may be a product of a group effort. Like many other research papers it is classified. In addition, it is unsigned; its publication is not attributed to the research worker, nor do its conclusions go to swell the general body of knowledge available to the scholarly community. Indeed, even within the intelligence community the author of a finished intelligence report may often be virtually unknown.

All of these characteristics require recruitment of research competence with a very different orientation from that characteristic of "traditional" research. The work requires persons who will offer conclusions based upon the best available information, who can work in a team situation, and who will accept the restrictions of anonymity.

Intelligence Research Specialist

The title for positions in the intelligence research field is Intelligence Research Specialist.

Intelligence Research Specialists apply a basic knowledge of a professional discipline, the principles and techniques of inductive and deductive reasoning, and a subject-matter knowledge of either a geographical area or a functional area to the production of finished intelligence reports. To accomplish this function they receive and review data from various documents, reference books, periodicals, newspapers, reports, photographs, and other forms of communication. They analyze and evaluate the significance and validity of such data and provide for its storage and maintenance. They exploit (As used in the intelligence field this means to acquire the maximum intelligence use out of raw data.), interpret, and project existing data to fill gaps in information, request the collection of data to fill gaps in knowledge, and review and evaluate finished intelligence reports from the point of view of their specific subject-matter fields.

In addition, some intelligence research specialists (1) give guidance to officials stationed or traveling overseas, and to others in a position to collect raw data, as to type and significance of information needed, (2) interview (debrief) returning foreign travelers to obtain intelligence data, and (3) conduct briefing sessions on specific topics for policy and decision-makers who are in need of specific intelligence information.

Intelligence operations

There is another group of positions in the intelligence field that is concerned with the development of collection plans, the organization of activities for the collection of raw intelligence data in a variety of subject-matter areas and the dissemination of finished intelligence reports. They apply a knowledge of the organization and operations of the entire intelligence function to a variety of different kinds of tasks and functions designed to collect and disseminate information.

Intelligence Operations Specialist

The title for positions in the field of intelligence operations is Intelligence Operations Specialist.

Intelligence Operations Specialists apply the knowledge of a professional discipline such as international relations, current history, military science, or political science and a knowledge of the operations and resources of the organizations which make up the intelligence community to a subject-matter specialty in the field of intelligence operations. Examples of such subject-matter specialties are collection techniques for electronics, intelligence, and liaison activities.

Intelligence Operations Specialists determine the need for and write collection manuals and guides, edit requests for intelligence data, perform liaison functions within the intelligence community, and determine the distribution of raw intelligence data and finished intelligence reports. In all of these activities they apply a knowledge of the organization for, and methods of, collecting intelligence data and of the resources and interests of the intelligence community; they utilize imagination in relating the collection and dissemination processes to the needs of research. For example, when an intelligence research specialist requests a specific piece of information he may do so with little regard for the relative availability of the information or of the methods by which it may be acquired. The intelligence operations specialist has a knowledge of the resources of the entire intelligence community. He considers whether another intelligence organization or an outside source has the required data; whether other intelligence research specialists in the same or other organizations have need for the same or related data, how they may best be acquired and which organization has the best collection facilities for their acquisition. He also considers, with the research specialist, the relative importance of the requested information to the research report as against the cost of acquisition, both monetarily and in terms of compromising sources of information. He assures the fullest exploitation of all data received, by referring it to all interested members of the intelligence community. Intelligence operations specialists exercise their functions through dealing with other people; they are generalists who are engaged, primarily, in facilitating the entire intelligence process.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-05

General characteristics

GS-5 intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists receive assignments as part of a training plan to develop them for higher-grade work. Assigned tasks are of a routine but progressively more difficult nature.

Nature and scope of assignment

On a progressively more responsible basis, GS-5 intelligence research specialists select, abstract, or excerpt data from specific sources and compile them for the use of higher-grade specialists; they evaluate and make preliminary analyses of raw intelligence data in items of such factors as adequacy of detail and coverage, and maintain files of raw or abstracted data. They also attend formal training courses.

Intelligence operations specialists at this level perform routine functions in the area of collection and dissemination. They make preliminary analyses of requests for intelligence information coming from analysts of the organization, and learn to recommend which collection resources are most fruitful. They make preliminary analyses of finished intelligence reports and make tentative distribution plans. They learn the organization structure, functions, and activities of the agencies in the intelligence community. They attend formal training classes.

Independence of operation and judgment

GS-5 employees work under the immediate supervision of specialist of higher grade. Their work is subject to close guidance and detailed review. Supervision and guidance received are primarily for the purpose of developing the abilities of the trainee.

Personal work contacts

Personal work contacts of GS-5 employees are principally with associates in the same unit. Outside contacts are usually initiated for them by their supervisors. Most of such contacts are made in company with the supervisor and are primarily for the purpose of securing information, observing operations, and increasing the employee's knowledge of intelligence functions.

Nature and scope of commitments


Skills and knowledges required

These positions require a background of study or equivalent experience in one or more of the social, political, physical or military sciences or certain specialized scientific or technical knowledges, a fundamental knowledge of research techniques, an ability to express ideas orally and in writing, and a demonstrated potential for learning the methods and techniques characteristic of intelligence work. Foreign language knowledges are desirable, and, for some positions, essential.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-07

General Characteristics

GS-7 intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists perform standardized tasks, or carry out segments of projects as assistants to specialists of higher grade.

Assignments progress in difficulty and complexity and are designed to provide experience in intelligence techniques and resources. Work at this level is distinguished from work at the GS-5 level by greater independence of operation, which requires progressively greater knowledge of the subject-matter field for the intelligence research specialist or of the functions and operations of the intelligence community for the intelligence operations specialist.

Nature and scope of the assignment

GS-7 employees are primarily factfinders and legmen who assist higher-grade specialists in the performance of their duties.

Intelligence research specialists perform preliminary research, analysis, and evaluation of raw intelligence data based upon such factors as recency and authenticity of technical detail and coverage. They prepare organized presentations of studies which are necessarily brief due to the uncomplicated nature of the specific intelligence, portions of larger studies as assistants to other specialists, or summaries of larger studies.

Intelligence operations specialists review requests for information coming from research specialists and make preliminary determinations of appropriate sources for acquiring such information. They make the preliminary determinations on the distribution of most intelligence reports.

Independence of operation and judgment

GS-7 employees are furnished with such information as priorities or special instructions as to methods of approach and means of overcoming obstacles. Work of a written nature is reviewed during progress for compliance with instructions and guides. Completed work is reviewed for technical accuracy and compliance with instructions.

Personal work contacts

Personal work contacts are broader and more numerous than at grade GS-5 and take place primarily for giving or receiving factual information. GS-7 employees establish working relationships with users at the same working level and with counterparts in other intelligence activities.

Nature and scope of commitments


Skills and knowledges required

In addition to the skills and knowledges required at GS-5, GS-7 employees must possess (1) an ability to relate their subject-matter field to intelligence needs or (2) knowledge of the basic workings and mutual interests of the intelligence community.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-09

General Characteristics

GS-9 intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists have continuing responsibility for a less complex geographic or functional area, or perform, on a recurring basis, a variety of tasks for a more complex project. They work under the guidance of a senior specialist. The primary emphasis at this level is on factfinding and analysis rather than on interpretation.

Nature and scope of the assignment

GS-9 intelligence research specialists analyze, assimilate, and evaluate all available intelligence information relating to their assigned area of responsibility. They are responsible for selecting new and pertinent material for the files and for recognizing the need to call to the attention of their superiors important new information which may suggest the necessity for further examination or study. They prepare (1) finished studies of factual data, which may be complete in themselves, or (2) assigned portions or contributions to larger studies, statistical compilations, or intelligence publications. Characteristically the finished intelligence which they produce does not require projection of data or estimates of probability.

GS-9 intelligence operations specialists fill requests for intelligence information levied on their own organization by other intelligence organizations. Some Intelligence Operations Specialists GS-9 carry out liaison functions with other intelligence organizations with respect to individual problems which are not expected to offer complications. They prepare collection instructions, guides, and manuals for use by collection activities and organizations, and participate in the review and evaluation of the collection process.

Independence of operation and judgment

Intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists follow standard work procedures independently. Judgment is exercised in adapting basic intelligence techniques to particular situations and in evaluating validity and pertinence of data and reports.

GS-9 employees are expected to complete most assignments without assistance from supervisors; assistance and advice are available on problems and major changes in approach are approved prior to being undertaken. The supervisor keeps informed on problems and progress and reviews completed work for completeness and validity of data, compliance with instructions and procedures and for adequacy of results.

Personal work contacts

GS-9 employees maintain contacts with personnel in their own organization on a routine consultative or working basis. They work with their counterparts in other intelligence organizations in securing and validating information, in checking judgments and conclusions, and in resolving mutual and individual problems.

Nature and scope of commitments


Skills and knowledges required

Both the intelligence research specialists and the intelligence operations specialists require a good knowledge of the basic technical or operational aspects of their basic subject-matter assignments, a familiarity with intelligence techniques and sources, and an understanding of current organization policies and attitudes.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-11

General Characteristics

GS-11 intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists are experienced in intelligence techniques and are responsible for projects and activities within a specifically defined geographical or functional area of responsibility. They prepare parts of more complex studies or reports which include all aspects related to their specifically-defined geographic or functional area.

GS-11 employees are responsible for the evaluation and interpretation of their findings. They participate in interagency committees and meetings as representatives of their organization within their assigned area.

Nature and scope of the assignment

GS-11 employees apply (and modify, if necessary) established intelligence practices to specific problems which involve many variables. They prepare basic-descriptive and current-reportorial intelligence reports, collection manuals, and instructions to field collectors in their assigned area of responsibility. They evaluate incoming reports and information. They arrange for and participate in the briefing and debriefing of attaches and others returning from, or undertaking, foreign travel, assuring that all interested parties are represented and that all essential points are covered.

Some GS-11 intelligence operations specialists advise on potential information sources within and outside the intelligence community. They review collection requirements and direct these requirements to the proper collection activity applying a knowledge of organization for and methods of collecting intelligence data. They serve as liaison representatives with officials of government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Typically the analyses and evaluations of GS-11 employees are based upon material which they have developed to a point of substantial completion and which they have validated satisfactorily for the purpose for which it is being used. When they perform analyses and evaluations involving the use of data with significant gaps or data that are not satisfactorily validated, their interpretations and projections are developed under the guidance of senior specialists.

Independence of operation and judgment

GS-11 employees establish their own work routines. They receive special assignments and policy guidance from the supervisor. Assistance is received in conferences during which the supervisor outlines assignments and objectives, suggests lines of approach, and identifies potential elements of difficulty. Contributions to major projects are reviewed for conformance to format, coherence and consistency, soundness of treatment and interpretation, and fulfillment of the requirements for which the project was instituted.

GS-11 employees exercise judgment in determining method of attack, techniques to be used, and manner of presentation of results. Background information, experience, and advice are available from senior staff members.

Personal work contacts

GS-11 employees maintain contacts with their counterparts in other intelligence organizations to keep abreast of current developments, to resolve problems, to eliminate duplication, and to provide free flow of information on matters of intelligence interest. They participate on a working level in interagency conferences and meetings concerned with coordination and planning of projects and establish mutual working relations with their counterparts.

GS-11 employees perform liaison functions with other organizations. At this level they are not the major official channel of communication between the organizations but they are responsible for effective presentation of each organization's needs in specific cases and for establishing harmonious working relations with their counterparts.

Nature and scope of commitments

When representing their areas of responsibility on committees, conferences, and at meetings, GS-11 employees are usually empowered to make agreements and commitments in accordance with previously received instructions which are binding within the scope of their own assignments.

Skills and knowledges required

Additional skills and knowledges required at GS-11 are a thorough knowledge of their subject matter and a working knowledge of conference, briefing, and interpretive techniques; for the intelligence operations specialist, a complete knowledge of specialized intelligence, collection, and dissemination techniques and sources, and the ability to produce instructions and manuals with a minimum of direction; and for the intelligence research specialist the ability to analyze and evaluate raw data in his geographical or functional area in order to produce finished intelligence reports under general supervision.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-12

General Characteristics

GS-12 intelligence research specialists and intelligence operations specialists are recognized as expert technicians with responsibility for the most complex, difficult, or (as occasion may warrant) most strategic assignments in a given area of responsibility. They have increasing responsibility in projecting data for estimates of future situations. They give professional guidance to their juniors; and advise higher level officials and groups working on specific problems related to their area of responsibility.

Nature and scope of the assignment

GS-12 employees establish methodology for problems which do not appear to be susceptible to treatment by generally accepted methods. They undertake long-range planning in their own work area, considering actual and potential problems, and present findings and recommendations to superiors and policy-makers. They brief superiors, planners, and policy-makers on all aspects of their work assignments.

In addition to assignments characteristic of GS-11, GS-12 employees prepare finished intelligence reports (basic-descriptive, current-reportorial, or speculative-estimative), collection plans and manuals, and guides for field collectors. They review and evaluate incoming intelligence reports and information, collection plans, and programs. Typically, in performing this work, employees are faced with significant gaps in data or data that are difficult to validate. GS-12 employees develop and project data, draw conclusions, and estimate probabilities based upon their knowledge of current and past intelligence situations, and an understanding of the significance of conditions and trends in their areas of specialization.

Independence of operation and judgment

GS-12 employees perform duties without specific instructions; they receive supervision through conferences and discussions with higher-level official. Factual and analytical content of work is generally accepted as accurate. Projections of data and future trends are reviewed for soundness of interpretation and estimates. Review of completed work is in terms of methodology and approach.

Judgment and ingenuity are required in the interpretation of data and adaptation of techniques, criteria, and methodologies. GS-12 specialists continually study trends and changes in their subject-matter field, and are thoroughly familiar with technical guides and publications, workloads, and priorities.

Personal work contacts

GS-12 employees carry out personal coordination and liaison with counterparts and colleagues throughout the intelligence community and using agencies. They frequently represent their organization in working groups and committees. They travel to other areas or countries to explain the needs of their organization or to give expert assistance in their field of competence. They give professional guidance and technical assistance to juniors in their own and other intelligence organizations, and serve as coordinators of projects jointly undertaken with other organizational units.

Nature and scope of commitments

GS-12 employees are recognized as experts of their organizations within their functional or geographical assignment. Frequently they represent their activity as experts in their area of responsibility.

Skills and knowledges required

GS-12 intelligence research specialists must have expert specialized knowledge in their own subject-matter field and the ability to apply facts and estimates derived from numerous sources to a variety of problems having different technical aspects. Intelligence operations specialists must have a broad background and comprehensive experience in intelligence techniques and operations and the ability to apply this knowledge to problems having different collection or distribution aspects. Both research and operations specialists must use a broad understanding of political, military, and economic affairs and history and a broad knowledge and understanding of different peoples and areas in estimating and forecasting future situations.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-13

General Characteristics

GS-13 intelligence research and operations specialists differ from those of GS-12 in the following respects: They provide consultant service or monitor projects in interrelated geographical or functional fields; their assignments are in terms of general objectives; their technical decisions are authoritative; and they are generally recognized as the organization's experts in their field; supervision received is administrative in nature; review of their work is for timeliness and appropriateness.

Nature and scope of the assignment

In addition to those functions characteristic of GS-12, GS-13 specialists, as a continuing responsibility, project and revise long-range estimates in their assigned field. They also serve on top-level review committees of their own intelligence organization to evaluate, discuss, test, and validate intelligence research reports, and intelligence collection programs, plans, guides and manuals before they are finally approved and released. In this capacity they serve both as representatives of their subject-matter field and as senior staff members and bring to bear both technical considerations of methodology and subject-matter knowledge of their own area.

GS-13 employees represent their organizations with private contractors and outside intelligence sources; they travel to other areas in this country and overseas when problems and projects are of a highly specialized or significant nature requiring the attention of especially qualified technicians.

Some GS-13 employees participate in the development of research programs and review and evaluate the results of these programs until they are fully operational. They prepare justification of projects and brief top agency personnel on the purpose and progress of developmental projects.

p>Independence of operation and judgment

Work is performed under general administrative direction, based upon current objectives. Results are reviewed for compliance with directives and decisions, and are not usually questioned on a technical basis.

Decisions, estimates, and recommendations are often made under conditions of urgency and pressure based upon mature judgment, experience and recognized professional standing.

GS-13 employees develop new concepts, guides, and methodologies in the solution of unprecedented problems and develop experimental approaches and solutions.

Personal work contacts

GS-13 employees have extensive contacts with individuals of the intelligence community of their own and other organizations at both operating and policy levels. They consult with and advise private contractors; participate in top echelon intra- and inter-agency planning or work groups; and provide advice from the point of view of their own special field. They may serve on committees that have national or international representation and implications and are concerned with matters of great international importance.

Nature and scope of commitments

Decisions and recommendations are made on controversial or novel matters and may serve as precedents. Findings are accepted as technically adequate and are used by higher authority with no questioning of the validity of data used. GS-13 employees have authority to undertake extensive exploratory projects so long as they do not conflict with the conduct of other projects.

Skills and knowledges required

In addition to those characteristics of the GS-12 level, GS-13 employees must have a comprehensive knowledge of the operation of the entire intelligence program of the organization and its relation to the national intelligence activity; an understanding of the functions and operations of other intelligence organizations, even though unrelated to their own special fields; familiarity with related nonintelligence activities; broad knowledge of the influence of their specialized field upon foreign areas and peoples in order to adduce probable courses of development and action; knowledge of the interplay of geographical, political, military, economic, and industrial forces in various regions of the world; and the ability to present and argue for a position effectively.

Intelligence Research Specialist and Intelligence Operations Specialist GS-0132-14

General Characteristics

The significant difference between this level of work and the next lower level is that GS-14 specialists have program planning, direction, or evaluation responsibilities for the research or collection operations of a major geographical area, of a functional program with world wide implications; they also serve as Government-wide experts in broad fields of research or operation.

Nature and scope of the assignment

GS-14 employees initiate projects, collection requests, and requirements for information; plan and direct collection activities; and plan broad research and analysis programs. They initiate and organize new administrative procedures in intelligence collection, production, and dissemination. They assess unforeseen developments, new phenomena, and difficulties encountered, and recommend changes in direction and approach. They evaluate the overall effectiveness and adequacy of the intelligence organization's operations in the light of its mission; they conceive, and initiate developmental projects to accomplish the necessary improvements.

Some GS-14 employees may prepare significant studies or assignments of a highly specialized nature which are expected to have a serious impact upon the intelligence community. They furnish consultation and advice on broad questions such as scope of problems to be investigated, issues involved, possible lines of attack, pertinent references available, required liaison or joint projects with other organizations, objectives to be sought, and security considerations to be observed. They present the interests and points of view of their organization on formal interagency committees, conferences, and work groups.

Independence of operation and judgment

Assignments at GS-14 are in terms of broad objectives to be attained and requirements to be fulfilled. Review is for compliance with national requirements and conformance to policy. A high degree of individual judgment is exercised in developing policies and regulations to meet the needs of the intelligence organization.

Personal work contacts

Personal work contacts at this level do not differ materially from those characteristic of GS-13.

Nature and scope of commitments

GS-14 employees are recognized as authorities throughout the intelligence community. GS-14 incumbents have authority and responsibility for instituting new projects or for redirecting already established projects in the program area for which they are responsible. This is in contrast to the authority of GS-13 employees who undertake exploratory projects which do not significantly affect the progress of other projects in their organizational segment. The conclusions and recommendations of GS-14 incumbents are generally accepted by policy-making officials and strongly influence policy decisions on intelligence matters of great moment.

Skills and knowledges required

GS-14 specialists must possess a sense of balance, timing, and proportion. They must be able to grasp conceptual ideas and exercise original thought where there is little time for deliberation and consultation; to evaluate the importance of international situations and problems; and to present well-considered and sound suggestions. They must be able to draw working hypotheses and test them empirically.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Most intellingence agencies will follow CIA requirements:

Drug Use

To be considered suitable for Agency employment, applicants must generally not have used illegal drugs within the last 12 months. The issue of illegal drug use prior to 12 months ago is carefully evaluated during the medical and security processing.

Personal Integrity

A career in intelligence can be enormously rewarding. It also demands the very best of the men and women who comprise the Agency's workforce. To meet the requirements of the work itself, intelligence professionals must be highly competent in their fields. To safeguard some of the nation's most sensitive information, CIA officers must be highly reliable and trustworthy. Woven through all aspects of their performance is the imperative to adhere to the highest standards of integrity. To be selected for a position of such trust and responsibility, one must be granted a security clearance. 

Many applicants wonder if they can pass such scrutiny. The Agency recognizes no one is perfect. Agency security officials consider the nature, extent, seriousness, and recency of past behavior. They weigh the potential risk and benefit of each individual - the whole person - with utmost care. Although national security is always the paramount consideration, our security experts work hard to ensure the Agency does not turn away unnecessarily someone who could make important contributions to the nation's intelligence effort.

The Clearance Process

The clearance process, which is strictly governed by rules and regulations derived from Federal statute and executive orders, begins when you accept a conditional offer of employment from the Agency. It involves a thorough examination of your life history and fitness to safeguard the nation's secrets. Think of this process as the first step in building a bridge of trust between you and the Agency. Candor is an essential ingredient in the establishment of that trust.

The investigation addresses comprehensively one's loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and soundness of judgment. In addition, it examines one's freedom from conflicting allegiances, potential for coercion, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling and protection of sensitive information.

The Agency uses a polygraph to check the veracity of information that bears upon the areas listed above. CIA's polygraph examiners are highly trained security professionals, among the world's best in their field. They work closely and carefully with applicants to ensure that the information upon which clearance decisions are based is as accurate as it can be and is guarded with the strictest confidence.

The clearance process can be lengthy. Since the Agency actively recruits people who have expert knowledge of foreign languages and cultures, it is not unusual for our applicants to have numerous foreign contacts. In these cases the investigation must cover more ground, which usually takes more time. Candor is critical to the timely completion of this process.

The hiring process also entails a thorough medical examination of one's mental and physical fitness to perform essential job functions.

You Should Also Note

Your responsibility to adhere to high standards of personal conduct does not end on the first day of employment. CIA employees undergo regular reinvestigations, including periodic polygraph examinations. CIA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The Agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation in granting, denying, or revoking security clearances.

Sources of Additional Information


Information on obtaining Intelligence Research Specialists and Intelligence Operations Specialists positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.


  • Central Intelligence Agency; and
  • Office of Personnel Management, Position Classification Standards.

Download Today!

Do Your Homework

The competition is fierce when it comes to finding a government job today, but the best informed job seekers are sure to come out on top. Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process, shows you step-by-step what you need to do in order to be considered for government employment.


We are here to help you and answer your questions.