Situation Before: Prior to the creation of Intellipedia, members of the IC were scattered and isolated. The Intelligence Community’s intranet was not seen as a dynamic tool and communication occurred through individual email, telephone or other point-to-point means. Topical information sharing across agencies often proved difficult. Many agencies were closed communities in that they did not provide access to ideas and work nor did they collaborate with other members of the IC. Without Intellipedia, intelligence information was not easily accessible to other IC members. Knowledge and lessons learned were often shared on a personal basis. As individuals left the IC, their expertise and valuable insight left with them.
Intellipedia is a collection of wikis at the Top Secret (TS), Secret, and Unclassified levels. The TS Intellipedia is the most robust as of January 2007 and is used by the 16 agencies in the Intelligence Community (IC). The Secret Intellipedia is used primarily by the foreign affairs and defense communities; the Unclassified version is available for all government officials and invited participants to collaborate. The same open-source code that drives the popular internet encyclopedia known as Wikipedia undergirds all three instances of Intellipedia. This system operates in synergy with other Web 2.0 tools such as instant messaging, blogs, and tagging software. Intellipedia leverages an ODNI-sponsored user authentication system to enable secure access to the application, further improving cross-agency collaboration and ensuring attribution of all participants. All individuals with access to Intelink - the Intelligence Community's intranet - may access the site. Intellipedia allows users to post new intelligence-related information, update current knowledge, or connect with other officials on past, current, or future events and topics. Intellipedia allows users to "connect the who with the what and the what with the who."
Intellipedia is the result of a collaborative effort between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), although it has been aided by a number of individuals from across the IC who aimed to develop a tool to bring officers together across agency lines and to foster communication and shared knowledge. In addition to establishing Intellipedia, the CIA developed an Intellipedia Sabbatical to teach officers how to use these Web 2.0 tools and, more importantly, to illustrate how they can replace and improve upon existing business processes. The diplomatic and warfighter communities are advancing the Secret-level Intellipedia and incorporating it into dramatic new business processes, and improving the ease with which users of the Secret-level network collaborate, find critical data, and harmonize a wide-array of analytic products and foreign affairs goals.
Intellipedia has begun to foster change within the organizational cultures of the IC. It promotes greater information sharing, collaboration, and transparency. Many agencies are following the CIA's lead and developing their own "sabbatical" programs to help their organizations take advantage of Intellipedia and other Web 2.0 technologies to advance their mission. Acceptance of this new information-sharing tool has led to rapid growth. From October 2006 to January 2007, the site has continued to see substantial growth in users (now more than 5,000) and has seen a rapid increase in pages (60,000). To date, Intellipedia administrators have distributed nearly 100 "Intellipedia shovels" and numerous Exceptional Performance Awards to individuals for exceptionally strong contributions toward sharing good practices and furthering the business of the ODNI and broader USG government in protection and the pursuit of our national interests. Members of different agencies focusing on similar topics can now build upon each other’s work. The extent of information sharing ranges from comparing meeting notes and information aids to developing a National Intelligence Estimate.
Through the Intellipedia, agencies also have improved their internal dialogues. Intellipedia mitigates barriers that result from misunderstanding over individual agency terminology and processes and encourages coordination and debate regarding intelligence assessments at the front-end of the analytic process. This interagency understanding and dialogue, fostered through Intellipedia, encourages an improved collective understanding of national security issues and a more evenly shared, subject-based knowledge system.