The CIA Is Preparing To Make Hiring Faster As Feds Double Down On Expansion

( The CIA wants to reduce the wait times for recruiting while also diversifying its applicant pools as part of new workforce priorities being put into place at the agency.

A recent report said that the CIA is overhauling its best practices for hiring new employees. But, the agency’s associate deputy director for the Directorate of Digital Innovation, Juliane Gallina, said the CIA’s own extensive process for security clearance is a major hurdle to changing its approach to recruiting.

Some elements of the recruiting process can’t be changed at all, though the CIA is trying to diversify its candidate pool more, while trying to expedite as many parts of the hiring process as possible.

At an event held on September 20 for the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, Gallina said:

“We’re going to figure out how to get people fully employed in a much, much shorter timeframe. We’re talking orders of magnitude. But, we have to trust that the security process and background checks are also completed adequately [and] that we haven’t taken shortcuts, because we really do ask our employees to have tremendous responsibilities to care for every sensitive data and missions, and to care for each other.”

It’s not just the CIA that’s focusing heavily on DEI efforts — or diversity, equity and inclusion — as well as accessibility. Most other federal agencies are doing the same during their recruitment processes. The CIA specifically is attempting to do this by taking an approach that’s much more hands-on than they have in the past.

Gallina explained:

“There’s a lot of focus on not just … the hiring process, but also helping to encourage the right people to apply — having different channels for applications that didn’t exist before, different ways of actually going out and proactively looking for the right candidates and encouraging people to apply, [and] creating relationships with academic institutions.”

In the past year, the federal agency expanded partnerships it has with HBCUs — historically Black colleges and universities. They’ve also expanded partnerships with institutions that serve minorities and other groups in an attempt to diversify their pool of recruits.

It’s not just diversification that’s on the minds of the CIA when it comes to recruiting. They also would like to work on whittling down the time it takes between when a candidate first applies for a job with the CIA and when they receive their final security clearance. Right now, it’s taking about 600 days on average, and the agency would like to see that be reduced to 180 days.

This very long time of obtaining security clearance essentially deters people who come from historically-disadvantaged populations of minorities, according to CIA Director Bill Burns. He said that the reason for that is they simply don’t have the typical means to wait out a job application for that long.

Gallina believes that the agency is already making strides in this area. As she said at the event:

“I think the median hiring time will have dropped by orders of magnitude by this December.”