Preferred Name

Tim Sparks

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Fall 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Integrated Science and Technology


Jeffrey Tang



The Intelligence Community (IC) reached consensus after 9/11/2001 on the importance of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) due to the changing nature of the global threat environment, the information explosion, and the changing intelligence requirements of the IC. Voluminous amounts of information, much of it with potential application for use in intelligence operations, continue to challenge IC intelligence analysts’ capabilities to harness, and effectively use in finished all-source intelligence production. Government reform commissions, senior IC officials, along with OSINT and technology advocates, have all espoused the growing importance of OSINT, and have outlined many ways in which the IC should improve including through improved OSINT training and expertise, along with the application of technologies and tools to assist IC analysts to perform the OSINT mission. This thesis examines how OSINT became important again after the events of 9/11, and the systematic efforts to institutionalize OSINT within the IC. This thesis examines the envisioned state of OSINT as published in the 2006 National Open Source Enterprise OSINT vision, that OSINT would be used as the “Source of First Resort”, and examines past IC efforts to implement technological solutions to make OSINT better for IC analysts. This examination attempts to answer the simple question of why haven’t technologies fixed OSINT yet? The thesis outlines many of the IC cultural challenges and limitations of the IC, as reflected in the literature, and personal observations of IC challenges that have inhibited OSINT, or may do so in the future. The thesis concludes by highlighting where OSINT has been and the unclear status of OSINT in the future IC. It is unknown whether OSINT will ever reach its full potential within the IC, or if on-going OSINT initiatives and reform efforts will repeat past trends. Further research may be required to understand future IC OSINT initiatives and how well OSINT fares in the coming years.



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