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NSA Historical Figures

Barbara A. McNamara

2020 Hall of Honor Inductee

Ms. Barbara McNamara demonstrated extraordinary leadership qualities in advancing NSA’s mission, enhancing cooperation with other US agencies, and developing foreign partner relations.  

Ms. McNamara joined NSA in 1963 and served in a wide variety of analytic and managerial positions. After attending the National War College, she became Executive Assistant to the Director, then NSA’s representative to the Department of Defense. She improved NSA/CSS support to the Pentagon by speeding transmission of requirements from DoD and access to NSA databases, greatly reducing the cycle-time of responses to time-sensitive requests.

As NSA’s Executive Director, Ms. McNamara led the Agency Leadership Team through a study focused on personnel practices; this study dramatically improved development of the future analytic work force.

As Deputy Director, NSA’s highest civilian position, Ms. McNamara facilitated discussions between the Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance missions on common issues that did not have common solutions.  She led NSA’s efforts to develop national encryption policy, working with the White House and DoD to develop standards acceptable to US industry while addressing concerns of the security and law enforcement communities.

Ms. Barbara McNamara’s achievements in senior positions have had a lasting impact in improving NSA’s operations and facilitating support with and by the Intelligence Community, making the nation significantly more secure.