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13 August 2013

NSA Strategy and Core Values

NSA/CSS Strategy

June 2010

Our Vision

Global Cryptologic Dominance through Responsive Presence and Network Advantage

Our Mission

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances.

Core Values

We will protect national security interests by adhering to the highest standards of behavior.

Lawfulness–We will adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the laws and regulations of the United States.

Honesty–We will be truthful with each other, and honor the public’s need for openness, balanced against national security interests.

Integrity–We will behave honorably and apply good judgment as we would if our activities were under intense public scrutiny.

Fairness–We will ensure equal opportunity and fairness in Agency policies, programs, and practices.

Accountability–We will be accountable for our actions and take responsibility for our decisions, practicing wise stewardship of public resources and placing prudent judgment over expediency.

Loyalty–We will be loyal to the nation, the mission, and each other, weighing ideas solely on the merits and ensuring that decisions enjoy vigorous debate while being made, followed by unified implementation.

Collaboration–We will cooperate with others in a respectful and open-minded manner, to our mutual success.

Innovation–We will seek new ways to accomplish our mission, planning for the future based on what we’ve learned from the past, and thinking ahead to the best of our ability to avoid unintended consequences.

Learning–We will acquire and transfer knowledge, provide the resources and training necessary for our people to remain at the forefront of technology, and individually pursue continuous learning.

Goal 1–Succeeding in Today’s Operations

Enable wise policymaking, effective national security action, and U.S. freedom of action in cyberspace by exploiting foreign use of electronic signals and systems and securing information systems used by the U.S. and its allies, while protecting privacy and civil liberties.

Enhance Cyber Security. Provide intelligence and information assurance products and services that will help uncover, prevent, mitigate, or counter attempts to compromise information or information technology that is critical to national interests.

Provide Tactical Advantage. Collaborate and securely share information with customers and mission partners, in the places and at the speed that maximize the operational impact of cryptologic activities.

Provide Strategic Advantage. Detect early indications of emerging or potential strategic threats to U.S. political, economic, or military interests despite the efforts of sophisticated adversaries to deny such warning, and provide critical U.S. and allied networks with resilience against attack.

Thwart Terrorists. Uncover violent extremists, their locations, plans, organizations and operations, and help deny violent extremists the ability to use cyberspace or other information technology to directly attack or disrupt U.S. interests, radicalize new extremists, or to otherwise advance their cause by any means including cyberspace or other information technology.

Contain, Control, and Protect Strategic Weapons. Uncover foreign efforts to develop or proliferate strategic weapons, provide cryptographic products and processes to secure U.S. nuclear weapons, and help keep proliferators from using information technology to their advantage.

Goal 2–Preparing for the Future

Deliver next generation capabilities and solutions that meet the challenges of tomorrow and drive solutions from invention to operation in support of national security and U.S. Government missions.

Foresee Future Needs. Preclude strategic surprise by anticipating the operational landscape and identifying future target and technology trends – integrating breakthrough research advances and partner effects into the future mission landscape while providing a predictive awareness of technology perishability to effectively influence investment priorities.

Create Research Breakthroughs and Transfer Technologies. Discover, develop, and demonstrate scientific and research breakthroughs in sufficient scale, scope, and pace for the NSA/CSS and our partners to gain, extend, and maintain our technical advantages over current and emerging adversaries–using technology transfer processes to deliver mission capability directly to mission teams and/or indirectly through technology capability development teams.

Develop and Mature Emerging Technologies. Leverage research breakthroughs and distributed operations to ensure our mission success and provide improved scalability, integration, precision, and assured information sharing–enhancing Information Assurance products and services, and SIGINT analysis, dissemination, and mission management in order to realize the full benefits of current and forecast collection capabilities.

Harden the Infrastructure. Harden the security of hardware and software components critical to our national interests by developing, deploying, and continuously modernizing a highly assured and resilient technology undercarriage with associated standards to enable combined operations.

Deliver and Sustain Mission Capabilities. In response to validated requirements, acquire and operationalize products and systems that provide capabilities to meet mission needs and that are consistent with the current and evolving Enterprise Cryptologic Architecture.

Leverage Partnerships. Develop and enhance U.S. Government, foreign, academic, and commercial partnerships to obtain access, expertise, and perspective to overcome cryptologic challenges while fostering cooperation between partners to advance common goals, make optimal use of resources, influence standards, and drive collaboration and secure information sharing.

Goal 3–Enhancing and Leading an Expert Workforce

Attract, develop and engage an exceptional, diverse workforce prepared to overcome our cryptologic challenges.

Build the Workforce. Sustain and improve a comprehensive recruitment, hiring, retention and reward strategy that keeps pace with the national demand for diverse talent.

Focus on Leadership. Identify, develop and sustain collaborative and accountable leaders who strengthen mission results and enable employees to realize their fullest potential.

Accelerate Learning and Achieve Mission Results. Educate, train, and develop an agile and collaborative enterprise-wide workforce with the skills and competencies necessary to meet current and emerging missions.

Provide Security, Counterintelligence, and Force Protection. Safeguard the workforce and worldwide assets and operations against traditional and emerging threats.

Modernize Facilities that Support Workforce Resilience. Recapitalize physical infrastructure to promote a modern, world-class work environment that safeguards the health, wellness, safety and quality of life of our employees.

Goal 4–Implementing Best Business Practices

Provide timely data to inform optimal strategic and tactical investment decisions while ensuring organizational accountability for executing those decisions and realizing the associated performance improvement.

Support Responsive Business Operations. Provide disciplined, repeatable, and transparent business processes, functions and support to mission operations at the speed of mission change.

Achieve Auditability. Improve the integration of business management functions to produce auditable financial statements, which will engender the trust of our overseers and enhance the agility of corporate decision processes.

Deliver Acquisition Excellence. Ensure timely and agile delivery of cost-effective capabilities through innovative, disciplined methods of acquisition, capitalizing on the strength of industry, and gaining efficiencies in contract administration.

Implement Business Automation and Integration. Improve the performance of all functions within the business segment of the architecture by refining processes, ensuring use of standards, increasing the use of automation, and enabling effective employment of common business solutions for ease of information exchange within and between IC Agencies.

Improve Performance-Based Budgeting. Clearly demonstrate the relationship between NSA/CSS strategy, mission performance, and investment decisions through improved integration of performance analysis and documentation within the planning, programming, budgeting, execution and assessment processes.

Goal 5–Manifesting Principled Performance

Accomplishing our missions with a commitment to a principled and steadfast approach to performance through compliance, lawfulness, and protection of public trust must be paramount.

Demonstrate Stewardship. Maintain the Nation’s trust by ensuring our actions, our processes, and our systems are consistent with the Constitution of the United States, authorized by law, and within the framework of applicable regulations by focusing on awareness, development, application, and prompt updates of standards, policies, and other mandates.

Exercise Integrity. Provide the necessary processes that will demand the highest standards of our people, processes and systems and ensure our people strive to exercise sound judgment, place honor above expediency, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Ensure Accountability. Take responsibility for outcomes related to our decisions, actions, and policies, and strive for precision in our people, processes and systems by appropriately implementing management controls and monitoring for the acceptance of responsibility.

Advance Transparency. Remain committed to honesty and visibility with our overseers and stakeholders to ensure the Nation’s trust is based on an accurate understanding of NSA/CSS activities, supporting oversight by providing all relevant facts in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and educating the workforce on the expectations of our overseers and stakeholders

For more information, visit NSA/CSS on the web

national security agency
central security service

core values clear vision

The mission of the National Security Agency (NSA) and its military component, the Central Security Service (CSS), is focused on saving lives, defending vital networks, and exploiting the foreign communications of adversaries. On behalf of the dedicated employees of America’s cryptologic organization, I appreciate your taking the time to learn about this unique national asset.

Every day, we provide valuable intelligence on issues of concern to all Americans—such as international terrorism, cyber crime, narcotics trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our customers range from U.S. decisionmakers to service personnel who are in harm’s way.

For us, collaboration is built into the very fabric of who we are. A component of both the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. Intelligence Community, we also partner with other Federal organizations—including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Cyber Command—to safeguard national security information and systems. Cybersecurity is a team sport. No one organization has the resources to do the job alone.

Just as we are committed to protecting the Nation, we are equally committed to protecting the privacy rights of the American people. It is not an either/or proposition. We must do both, and we do, every day.

This guide highlights our core values and vision. We always stand ready to serve—for the good of the Nation.

General, U.S. Army
Director, NSA/Chief, CSS

succeeding in TODAY’S OPERATIONS

By collecting foreign signals, we provide policymakers and warfighters with information that gives them a decisive edge to keep our Nation safe. We protect both information and information technology that are essential to U.S. interests. We also defend critical U.S. and Allied networks against attack. We help our customers identify and correct vulnerabilities in technology and operations. Together, these activities—collecting foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT), providing information assurance (IA), and enabling computer network operations (CNO)—are the crux of NSA’s work.

SAVING lives

NSA/CSS provides indications and warnings of impending terrorist attacks and operational planning abroad. Fast action is key. Our technology allows us to deliver actionable intelligence to troops in near real-time or better. We share information with agencies that are responsible for safeguarding our homeland and protecting our citizens around the world.


We carry out missions in ways that are consistent with the Nation’s values and laws. Earning the American public’s trust is paramount. Our employees are held to the highest standards of accountability and lawfulness, which are reinforced by recurrent training at all levels. Our compliance processes are a part of a broader oversight structure in which all three branches of the U.S. Government play key roles.

building upon our RICH HERITAGE

We confront today’s increasingly complex challenges with determination and creativity, just as we’ve tackled past issues. An understanding of our history enriches our future. Our legacy of cutting-edge technology has developed communications solutions for generations.

preparing for the FUTURE

Our goals are to: Improve and modernize the security of sensitive information systems and produce timely and actionable intelligence. Create and integrate research breakthroughs and transfer technologies in support of national security and U.S. Government missions. Collaborate in developing education programs at the elementary, secondary, and college levels.

CYBERSECURITY: a team sport

NSA/CSS partners with Federal organizations, private industry, and academia to develop the capabilities to safeguard national security information. Cybersecurity is a team sport. Providing technical expertise to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Cyber Command, and other Federal Government entities is one of our essential duties. To stay ahead of adversaries, we constantly adjust and improve our defenses to protect the United States in this digital age. NSA/CSS provides intelligence as well as innovative products and services to confront cyber threats in an everchanging global environment.


Remarkable people with remarkable skills form the heart of the National Security Agency. We are an adaptive, forward-leaning organization. We can and must outthink, outwork, and defeat our adversaries’ new ideas. This is possible only with a dedicated, talented workforce that supports the defense of the United States and all that it stands for. NSA’s core values underpin this commitment. First and foremost is our respect for the law. Everything that we undertake in our missions is grounded in our adherence to the U.S. Constitution and compliance with U.S. laws and regulations that govern our activities. Honesty and integrity are core values. We recognize that national leaders and the American people at large have placed great trust in us, and we strive at all times to be deserving of that trust. In addition, we embrace transparency to the fullest extent possible. We never forget that we, too, are Americans and that every activity we engage in is aimed at ensuring the safety, security, and liberty of our fellow citizens. NSA is a unique national asset because of our employees, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. NSA’s people not only matter, they make all the difference.

Deputy Director
National Security Agency

National Vigilance Park

National Vigilance Park honors the “silent warriors” who performed crucial intelligence-gathering missions during the Cold War. The achievements and sacrifices of these military personnel are a proud part of the NSA/CSS legacy.

National Cryptologic Museum

The National Cryptologic Museum houses thousands of cryptologic artifacts that serve to illustrate the history of the cryptologic profession. This museum is free and open to the public.

Defending Our Nation Securing Our Future

NSA Office of Public Affairs, 301-688-6524,