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NSA’s toptalent is leaving because of low pay, slumping morale and unpopular reorganization

美国国家安全局顶尖人才因工资低、士气低落、重组不得人心而离开。



The NationalSecurity Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilledpersonnel, some disillusioned with the spy service’s leadership and anunpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the privatesector.

美国国家安全局正在以令人担忧的速度失去顶尖人才,其中一些人对间谍服务的领导层和此次不得人心的重组感到失望,去私营部门从事了更加高薪、弹性的工作。

Since 2015, the NSA has lost several hundredhackers, engineers and data scientists, according to current and former U.S.officials with knowledge of the matter. The potential impact on nationalsecurity is significant, they said.

据之前和现在的知情美国官员说,从2015年开始,美国国安局失去了上百个黑客、工程师和数据科学家。他们说,这对国家安全潜在的影响是巨大的。

Headquarteredat Fort Meade in Maryland, the NSA employs a civilian workforce of about 21,000there and is the largest producer of intelligence among the nation’s 17 spyagencies. The people who have left were responsible for collecting andanalyzing the intelligence that goes into the president’s daily briefing. Theirwork also included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the IslamicState, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions offoreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classifiednetworks that carry such sensitive information.

国安局总部位于马里兰州的米德堡,雇佣劳动力约21000,在全国17个情报机构中是最大的。已经离开的人以前是负责为总统的每日简报收集和分析情报的。他们的工作还包括监测包括伊斯兰国、俄罗斯和朝鲜黑客在内的一系列问题、分析外国政府的意图,以及负责保护那些运送敏感信息的机密网络。

“Some synonymof the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said Ellison AnneWilliams, a former senior researcher at the NSA who left in 2016 to start herown data-security firm, Enveil. More than 10 of her employees also came fromthe NSA, she said. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongesttechnical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

“用“流行”的近义词来描述它再贴切不过了,”Ellison Anne Williams,国安局的一名前高级研究员说。她在2016年离开国安局,创立了自己的数据安全公司Enveil。她说,公司的十多个员工也来自国安局。“国安局逐渐失去一大批顶尖的技术人才,而失去最优秀和最机智的员工是一个巨大的打击。”

The NSA wouldnot disclose how many job vacancies it has. Agency officials said there is a5.6 percent attrition rate among personnel who specialize in science,technology and math. The attrition rate is closer to 8 or 9 percent amonghackers and those who staff the agency’s always-operating watch centermonitoring for cyber attacks, a trend that has spanned the Obama and Trumpadministrations.

国安局不会透露有多少职位空缺。国安局官员说,专攻科学、技术和数学的人员有5.6%的减员率。黑客和那些负责持续监视网络攻击的监视中心的工作人员中,减员率接近8或9%。这一趋势贯穿奥巴马和特朗普政府。

Although thedeparture rates are low, compared with attrition levels in the civiliantechnology industry, and although the agency is filling its vacancies, most newpersonnel lack the experience of those who have left, said one seniorintelligence official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity tooffer candid insights about the secretive organization. That experience deficitcan impede the NSA’s core mission of collecting and analyzing the masses ofdata the agency lifts from foreign networks.

虽然与民用科技产业的减员率相比,国安局的离职率很低,虽然国安局填补了职位空缺,但是大多数新员工缺乏离职员工具备的经验,一个高级情报官员说。像其他人一样,他匿名向秘密机构提供了坦诚的见解。这种经验的不足会妨碍国家安全局的核心任务——收集和分析来自国外网络的大量数据。

Some groups within the NSA have lost almost half of their staffs, one former official said.As a result, projects -to make intelligence collection more effective- havebeen cut or slowed.

一位前官员说,NSA内部的一些组织已经失去了近一半的员工。结果,使情报收集更有效的项目被削减或减慢了。

It is aturbulent moment in the NSA’s 65-year history. The agency continues to facepublic distrust after revelations, made by former contractor Edward Snowden in2013, about the scope of its surveillance of American citizens. Morale dippedin the aftermath of those disclosures and has not fully recovered. Morerecently, the workforce was rattled by a series of breaches targeting the agency’shighly sensitive hacking tools.

这是美国国家安全局65年历史上的动荡时刻。在前雇员Edward Snowden2013年对美国公民监视的揭露后,该机构继续面临公众的不信任。这些揭露后士气低落,至今尚未完全恢复。最近,由于一系列破坏国安局高度敏感的黑客工具的行为,员工们感到慌乱。

Anothersource of frustration is an ongoing reorganization that has merged the NSA’shighly secret electronic spying mission with its more public network-defenseoperation, along with other changes. NSA Director Michael S. Rogers, a Navyadmiral who also oversees the military’s Cyber Command, launched NSA 21 tobreak down what he called the “walls of granite” among divisions whose missions,he believed, complement one another.

另一个沮丧的原因是,正在进行的重组将国家安全局高度机密的电子侦察任务与其更公开的网络防御行动合并,并做出了其他的变动。国家安全局局长Michael S. Rogers,一名海军上将,也监督军队的网络司令部,他推出了“国家安全局21”来打破部门之间的“花岗岩墙”,他认为这些部门的任务是相辅相成的。

Formeremployees have voiced a variety of complaints. Some say they feel theirmissions have been marginalized by the restructuring. One called thereorganization “an enormous distraction” and lamented what he characterized asan inefficient procurement process that made it difficult to obtain even simpleopen-source developer tools. Another faulted the agency’s pay structure andpromotion system, saying it favors seniority over skill and competence.

前员工们表达了各种各样的抱怨。一些人说他们觉得他们的任务在重组中被边缘化了。有人称重组“严重使人分心”,把它描述为即便是简单的开源开发工具都难以获得的低效率的采购过程,并为之悲哀。另一个人批评国安局的薪酬结构和晋升制度,称它偏爱资历而不是技能和能力。

A series ofbreaches beginning with Snowden and including the arrest of former contractorHarold T. Martin III in 2016 have led to new security precautions. Suchrestrictions on accessing data have made work more difficult, and the internalhunt for would-be leakers has contributed to an environment of suspicion, saida number of current and former employees.

从斯诺登开始的一系列违规行为,包括2016对前雇员哈罗德·马丁三世的逮捕,导致了新的安全防范措施。不少现任和前任员工说,对于访问数据的限制加剧了工作的难度,国安局内部寻找潜在泄密者营造了怀疑的气氛。

“It comesdown to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people“tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once theyleave, the dominoes start falling.”

“水滴石穿。”一个前雇员说。他说人们“往往结伴辞职,一个人触及了他们的极限点,一旦他们辞职了,多米诺骨牌就开始倒了。”

The braindrain has been so pronounced that at one gathering in 2016 of the agency’selite hacking division, one individual raised the concern with Rogers directly.According to several people familiar with the exchange, Rogers disputed thatthere was any increase in attrition and told his employees that they shouldstop complaining and get back to work.

人才流失如此严重,以至于在国安局精英黑客部门2016年的聚会中,有一个人直接向Rogers提出了这种顾虑。据熟悉这次交流的几位人士说,罗杰斯不认为减员有所增加,并对他的员工说,他们应该停止抱怨,回去工作。

An NSAspokesman, Tommy Groves, did not challenge the account, saying that employees’concerns about high attrition rates have led to changes, including increasedpay, increased promotions and greater opportunities to work at all NSA sites.

国安局发言人Tommy Groves没有对此提出质疑,他说,员工对高离职率的担忧引起了一些变化,包括增加工资、增加升职机会以及增加在国安局任何一个机构任职的可能。

Rogers didnot respond to a request for comment. More recently, though, he has made it apoint in public to thank the agency’s workforce and acknowledge the “culturalchallenge” its employees face. At a national security conference in September,for instance, he said that dealing with “the great men and women of theorganization” is “the best part of the day for me.”

国安局局长Rogers没有回应采访的请求。不过,他最近在公开场合表达了对员工的感谢,并承认国安局的员工们面临着企业文化的挑战。比如在义词国家安全会议上,他说,和“组织里优秀的人们”共事是“一天中最好的时候”。

He added: “Ifthe price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women thatgenerate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill.”

他补充道:“如果安全的代价是我们赶走了最初产生价值的人们,那我们现在就有了自发的杀戮任务。

Rogers hastold colleagues he plans to retire in the spring, ending a four-year tenurethat has been rocky at times. At one point in 2016, the defense secretary anddirector of national intelligence wanted him removed over various leadershipconcerns. Rogers survived the episode, and with Trump’s national security teamstill settling in, he was seen as an element of continuity at the agency.

罗杰斯告诉同事,他计划在今年春季退休,结束四年时而艰苦的任期。2016年的某段时间,美国国防部长和国家情报总监曾因为一系列领导层的顾虑希望罗杰斯离开。Rogers度过了这个时期,如今特朗普的国家安全团队还在安顿,他被认为是国安局能持续稳定的因素。

It is notclear whom President Trump will nominate to succeed him, but whoever steps intothe role will face a variety of challenges.

目前还不清楚特朗普总统会提名谁来接他的班,但不论是谁担任这个角色,都会面临各种挑战。

“NSA is atthis moment experiencing stress that is constant and unrelenting,” one formersenior intelligence official said. He said the agency has weathered otherhigh-anxiety periods “because there was cohesion in the workforce and a leaderwho could nurture them through it, if not inspire them. But this directorhasn’t chosen to do that.”

一个前高级情报官员说:“美国国家安全局此刻正承受着持续而无情的压力。”他说,国安局经受住了其他高焦虑时期,“因为员工中有凝聚力,还有一位领导可以培养或鼓励他们度过这段时期,但这位局长没有选择这么做。”

Skilledpersonnel have always left the NSA, in particular to work for defensecontractors that support its work, said Deputy Director George Barnes, who hasbeen at the agency for 31 years. “The big change these days is there’s asupply-demand imbalance between the outside and the inside,” he told TheWashington Post.

能力强的工作人员一直不断地离开国家安全局,特别是去为支持国安局工作的国防承包商工作,已经在国安局工作了31年的副局长George Barnes说。他对华盛顿邮报说:“现在最大的变化是外部和内部供需失衡。”

Barnesdefended Rogers’s leadership and his handling of the reorganization. Rogers, hesaid, “is totally focused on ‘What’s the culture? How do we understand whatcauses stress?’ It’s the antithesis of the negative vibe” about which someemployees complained.

Barnes为Rogers的领导和他对重组的处理辩护。“Rogers,”针对一些员工的抱怨,他说,“完全专注于“文化是什么”、“我们如何理解导致压力的原因”。这是负面情绪的对立面。”

Barnes alsonoted the allure of Silicon Valley and other cities that tech start-ups callhome. The U.S. private sector is struggling to fill more than 270,000 jobs incybersecurity, according to Burning Glass Technologies, a labor analytics firm.Total compensation for those jobs can reach $200,000 or more, meaning evenrelatively junior cyber professionals in the industry can make more than topofficials at the NSA.

Barnes还提到了硅谷和其他被科技初创企业称为家的城市的魅力。据Burning Glass Technologies——一个劳动力分析公司说,美国的私营部门正在努力填补超过270000个网络安全方面的工作岗位。这些工作的总薪酬可能达到200000美元或更多,这意味着即使是相对初级的网络专业人员的收入也能超过国家安全局的顶尖官员。

Some seniorofficials say that the outflow in part reflects a cultural shift in whichmillennials are not inclined to stay in one workplace for an entire career. Andit also stems from a disproportionate number of retirements of people whoentered the agency in the 1980s during a hiring boom.

一些高级官员说,人员流出一定程度上反映了文化的转变——千禧一代不愿意整个职业生涯都呆在一个地方。这也是由于在招聘热潮时期,大量上世纪80年代进入国安局的人退休了。

Other formerNSA personnel who have left or retired recently expressed confidence that theNSA would weather the storm.

其他的离开或退休了的国安局前工作人员表示相信国安局会平安度过暴风雨。

“Yes, peoplewill leave, but there are things you can do there that you can’t do anywhereelse. It’s for God and country,” said Daniel Ennis, who oversaw the agency’sthreat operations center before retiring in 2015 after 33 years. He now leadsadvanced cyberthreat intelligence for BlueteamGlobal, a private cybersecurityfirm.

“是,人们会离开,但有些事情只能在国安局做,别的地方都做不了。它是为了神和国家的。”Daniel Ennis说。他在2015年退休之前,负责监督国安局的威胁行动中心,工作了33年。他为BlueteamGlobal,一家私人网络安全公司,领导先进的网络威胁情报机构。

“NSA alwaysrecovers,” Ennis said.

“国安局总会恢复过来的。”Ennis说。