Local NGA leader prepares for new headquarters and more demand for analysis
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a new executive for its NGA West headquarters in St. Louis.
Brett Markham was recently named deputy associate director and west executive. He has been with the agency since 2012 and now oversees the current NGA West headquarters in Soulard, an operation in Arnold, as well as some employees at Scott Air Force Base. The total workforce in all three locations is about 3,600.
He also has a key role in overseeing the $1.75-billion planned new headquarters in north St. Louis. That facility is expected to open in late 2024. But Markham told St. Louis Public Radio in a recent interview that the biggest challenge could be keeping up with more requests for information and analysis pumped out by NGA West.
"The demand for what we provide to the national policymakers, to the warfighters, to the local first responders continues to increase," he said. "Because what we provide enables them to make timely decisions and affects their response."
The NGA also supplies information support for disaster relief and operations at high-profile events like the Olympics. The data provided by the agency focuses on imagery and geospatial information – or details about location and features on the earth’s surface, like an extremely high-tech topographical map.
Any further reliance on technology to keep up with increasing demand is not expected to lead to job cuts, Markham said.
"It complements. It doesn't replace humans in the workforce."
He does not anticipate any additions to workforce numbers once the new headquarters is operational, but he said there will be vacancies created by retirements. He's hoping strong connections to area schools can create a local worker pipeline to bring talent into the NGA.
"Through our partnerships with education, in particular, we can groom the workforce today to be competitive for the jobs of tomorrow," he said. "Focusing in on encouraging degrees on STEM-related actives — data science, data management — those kinds of things."
Markham said partnering with LaunchCode and others should help develop a skilled pool of potential employees for the NGA's future.
The Auburn University graduate also spent roughly three decades in the U.S. Navy, including time in the office of the NGA director.
Follow Wayne on Twitter: @WayneRadio