The Role and Mission of the CIA Directorate of Science
and Technology

The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) is responsible for facilitating the collection, processing and analysis of intelligence through technical collection systems. The DS&T is tasked with operating these highly sophisticated systems, as well as creating, adapting, and developing them.

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The DS&T has a long history of excellence and accomplishments, as seen in these examples:

  • Developed the CORONA, the first film-return photoreconnaissance satellite in the 1960s, which became a major source of intelligence during the Cold War
  • Was instrumental in the rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis
  • Identified the timer circuit that was used in the explosive that was identified in the take-down down of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1998
  • Provided significant foreign analysis that was used in confirming the identity of Osama bin Laden and a number of other high-value targets


Who Works for the Directorate of Science and Technology?

All CIA employees within the DS&T are technical intelligence officers who may flex their expertise in any number of areas, such as computer programming, information technology, and engineering. Their work requires them to work alongside a number of partners and specialists within the Intelligence Community, as well as academia, the military, the private sector, and national laboratories.

The CIA demands technical intelligence officers who have a “diverse and technically savvy skill set.” These professionals must always be aware of new information technology; not only for the purposes of the agency, but also because foreign targets may be changing the way they use their information.

Technical intelligence officers must be able to protect the CIA’s information and systems against attacks by hackers or hostile intelligence services and be aware of sophisticated defenses and emerging threats.

Defeating hostile technologies requires a varied group of experts, from engineers and scientists to analysts and even graphic artists, all of whom work together to produce one-of-a-kind technologies that meet the agency’s national security requirements.

Securing Employment with the Directorate of Science and Technology

The majority of entry-level positions within the DS&T require a bachelor’s degree, although full-performance and expert-level positions generally require candidates with advanced degrees and substantial work experience.

All applicants must be at least 18 years old, and they must be United States citizens to qualify for employment. Further, applicants must be able to successfully complete a polygraph examination, medical examination, and an extensive background investigation.

The DS&T also recruits candidates through their student programs. The DS&T seeks students who are pursuing majors in programs such as:

  • Computer science
  • Information technology
  • Engineering
  • Physical sciences
  • Information systems

Their Undergraduate Scholar Program also seeks qualified high school seniors who, in return for summer employment and tuition assistance, make a commitment to the CIA following graduation.

The DS&T Graduate Studies Program, a summer internship program, is designed for individuals entering their first or second year of full-time graduate study.

The general training undertaken by all new DS&T employees includes training about the CIA’s mission, policies and administrative processes, as well as specialized training required for the specific position.

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All employees within the DS&T are encouraged to continue their education. As such, they often provide tuition assistance, modified work schedules, and other support to those seeking to continue their education.

The DS&T employs a number of outreach programs that are designed to identify and recruit new talent:

Student Programs

The DS&T conducts local high school science fairs, a National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence, and Diplomacy, and the Presidential Classroom, a prestigious program for high school seniors that includes exciting seminars and discussions with Congressmen, Presidential appointees, and other Washington insiders.

Professional Outreach Programs

The DS&T supports a number of minority conferences and career fairs. It is common for the DS&T to serve as a corporate affiliate or sponsor and provide speakers for these programs. Just a few of the organizations the DS&T works with include:

  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
  • Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP)
  • National Society of Black Engineers
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE)


How the DS&T is Organized

Although all DS&T officers are technical intelligence officers (TIO), their skills and expertise determine where they will work within the DS&T:

TIO – Operations Tradecraft: Involves creating solutions to complex technical and operational problems and using tools and technologies to design, troubleshoot, and verify the design

TIO – Technical Research: Involves finding new solutions to complex problems and implementing scientific theories that support and enhance the intelligence mission

TIO – Technical Development: Involves analyzing requirements, proposing solutions, conducting engineering analyses, and managing development activities as to keep technical projects active and running as planned

TIO – Technical Analysis: Involves performing all-source analysis and research as to better understand intelligence gaps and intelligence priorities as to fight informational security breaches from foreign adversaries

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