The Evolution of Structured Analytic Techniques
By Richards J. Heuer, Jr.
Presentation to the National Academy of Science, National Research Council Committee
on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National
Security, Washington, DC, December 8, 2009.
First, I want to thank the committee for the work you are doing toward our common goal
of improving intelligence analysis, and for the opportunity to be here today to hopefully
make some small contribution to this common effort.
I’ll start with a little history. In 1975 I arranged to shift from the operations side of CIA
to the analysis side in order to work in a new Analytic Methodology Division that had
recently been created in direct response to criticism by prominent academics that the
agency’s analytic methods were way out of date. Our task was to examine quantitative
methods that were developed in the 1960s during what was called the behavioral
revolution in academic political science, and to test how these methods could be applied
to intelligence analysis. I don’t know the full story of the creation of this division, except
that the order came down in a policy directive from the CIA Director, then Bill Colby. I
can easily imagine that this recommendation originated with an NRC committee just like
yours 35 years ago. In other words, I feel like I’ve been down this road before.
In 1977, at the annual International Studies Association convention, I chaired a panel
called Quantitative Approaches to Political Intelligence: The CIA Experience. This was
to show academia what we were doing in response to their criticism. Those panel
presentations were subsequently published as a book that I edited, with that same title.
This division did some very good and interesting quantitative work, but as far as I can
tell, it did not lead to any long-term change in analytic methods. The only long term
impact that came from the work of this division was my book on the Psychology of