Overview of the Source Review Process

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Al-Akhbar Management

Date 2011-10-01 01:28:43
From [email protected]
To [email protected]
Others InReplyTo: 999278944-[email protected]b25.c18.bise6.blackberry
Meredith, As we discussed, I've included my thoughts about the review process below. Please let me know if you have any questions. Hope you have a safe trip and a good weekend!

This document is meant to provide my observations about the sources that have been evaluated to date and our use of those sources. I've also included some other observations about the source review process and the thoughts about how to make our source process function more effectively.

To date the groups of sources that have not been reviewed include:

MESA - All of Reva's sources, aside from ME1

FSU - Lauren's Russia sources, aside from the first 20 and new sources that Eugene has developed while in the region

East Asia - All sources not managed by Jen (Rodger, Zhixing, Colby, Chris, Lena)

Topic Specific Sources - Sources that can discuss economics, military, energy, minerals and other similar topics in multiple regions and countries

Regional Overviews -

Latam - We have a wide range of sources in Latin America that cover political, security and economic matters, but we don't have a particular depth in any one country or area, with the possible exception of security sources in Mexico. Our coverage in Brazil could be especially good as both Paulo and Allison further develop their current contacts. Paulo appears to have a good selection of political, security, military and econ contacts, though we don't have a good track record of information from these contacts at this point. In other countries, we have a scattered selection of sources that appear to be primarily political. We have some gaps in full country coverage in Latin America, especially in Central America, since these areas haven't been particularly important in the past. We have some gaps in economics throughout the region, though we also are largely lacking tactical details about events and situations within the region.

East Asia - The sources we've reviewed to date have been handled by Jen, so there may be other gems buried among the team. Jen has a few select sources that have a deep and broad base of knowledge about specific subjects inside China, but mostly they have information specific to certain corporations, industries or situations. Jen has several contacts with economic and finance related information and analysis that we currently utilize. There are also several sources with a solid understanding of the political situation, as well as tactical events in the country. Moving forward, it may be useful to us to establish additional sources outside of Beijing and Shanghai to fill geographic gaps, as most of our contacts are currently located in those areas. Our coverage of Southeast Asia is largely dependent on two sources in each country. We currently have good sources covering several countries that all appear to have a good personal network of their own sources to assist us. These networks appear to fill most gaps in our coverage throughout the sub region.

Europe/FSU - Of all regions, I was most troubled by our contacts in the FSU region. While we have some contacts in Romania and Ukraine that cover political and economic matters, there are very few contacts that have proven to send us information on a reliable basis, and most of these contacts have a very narrow focus. That said, both Eugene and Antonia have identified a number of potential sources that could fill the gaps that we currently see in these areas. Our sources in Kazakhstan include both broad and narrowly focused areas of interest, though we don't have a good track record of information from many of the sources that would appear to be most valuable. This is also the case in many of the smaller countries in the region. We've only covered the first 20 of Lauren's Russia sources, though so far we appear to have a good grasp of political and energy matters in the country. Europe-not including countries of the Former Soviet Union - appears to be our weakest region by far. To date, we've seen fewer than 10 sources in this region, but this may be due only to our focus on other lesser-developed areas.

MESA - We don't yet have a complete look at our capabilities in MESA without a more detailed examination of the information that's being provided by ME1's sub-sources and a review of Reva's sources outside of ME1. While we have that information that ME1 has submitted in the archive, it's not readily identifiable as belonging to any specific sources, thus it's difficult to judge the credibility of the individuals providing information. We also need to evaluate the rest of Reva's non-ME1 contacts. Kamran has a broad network of contacts with deep knowledge of the history and strategic issues surrounding the Middle East. Changes in coding systems and lack of coding for previous insight means we don't have a good handle on the information that has previously been provided by these contacts. Despite their vast knowledge, the majority of these contacts do not have a tactical understanding of the day-to-day affairs in the Middle East, or economic affairs throughout the region. While ME1 likely has sources that can cover these issues in the Levant, we have significant gaps in coverage of tactical issues in most Middle Eastern countries. The notable exceptions to these thoughts are Turkey and Afghanistan, where we have several sources that can provide information on both the strategic and tactical situations related to politics and security. We also have a good selection of Turkish sources with economic information, though we don't have a solid track record of information from those contacts yet.

Africa - Mark has a very large list of contacts that could provide information on a wide variety of topics. However, outside of South Africa, the majority of his sources appear to have a very narrow scope of interest and are typically not easily accessible. Additionally, most of these contacts are not regularly in communication with Mark, which may make it difficult for us to tap into their knowledge on a regular basis. Many would be useful in very specific circumstances, but few could be considered to have an in-depth knowledge and expertise of broader topics or fields of study. Mark has some sources in South Africa that have a broader understanding of the political and security situation in South Africa and the energy and mining situations throughout the southern Africa region. However, most of the contact list appears to be related to security, or specific corporations, leaving gags in the area of economics. There are also gaps in some countries throughout the continent and gaps in our understanding of larger economic, mining, and energy issues outside of the southern regions.

General Impressions

We found that many analysts frequently had not been sending insight information, either because it they did not consider their information to be insight, or because they had not yet coded the contact providing the insight. A simplified way to provide source codes and updated guidance on when a source should be given a code and what information should be sent will solve this problem.

In previous years, I would estimate that more than 50% of all insight sent to the lists did not include a source code. Now that we're attempting to evaluate each source based on the information that they're providing, it's more important that source codes are used each time a piece of insight is sent. The Watch Officers have already been extremely helpful in making sure the analysts are using codes when possible. This should aid in the next evaluation.

Our use of sources is currently limited by the fact that the analysts don't always know that a source exists. Obviously this is due in part to operational security, but it may be beneficial if source descriptions are provided among regional team members to make sure that everyone is aware a certain source exists and it may be possible to tap that individual for information.

We have very few sources that are proactive in providing us with information, despite some very long and beneficial relationships.

Of all media sources, multiple regions noted that they frequently interact with Reuters news agency more than others. I'm not sure if that means something specific, but our analysts seem to interact with Reuters journalists and bureau chiefs very frequently.

I didn't see any specific trends related to the use of Confederation partners among regions. While some have been very useful to date, it seems that there may be a mismatch between the individuals our analysts are speaking with and the people who actually have the information we're seeking. In some cases, it seems like this might be deliberate, or may be related to perceptions that we're competition within the industry. In some cases, these partnerships appear to be flourishing and providing us with good information. I don't recall hearing from any analyst that the relationship was too draining or too demanding for us to fulfill.

Several analysts brought up the idea of "tag-teaming" some sources, especially when dealing with confederation partners and indicated that this was a good strategy for an all-sides approach to the company so that we can try to ensure we're connecting as much as possible, especially in cases where one person "clicks" more with the partner involved.


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