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Controversial Report Examines U.S. Intelligence Budget

Report Shows 22.5% of the US “Black Intelligence Budget” is Targeted at IT Solutions

Report Shows 22.5% of the US “Black Intelligence Budget” is Targeted at IT Solutions

According to new and somewhat controversial research from IDC Government Insights, the U.S. intelligence budget for fiscal year 2013 (FY13) was reportedly set at $52.3 billion, with an additional $400 million spent across other government agencies, which require some level of interaction of data sharing with the intelligence community.

“While a total of $52.6 billion often is quoted as the total black intelligence budget, this new report mainly addresses the $52.3 billion that was outlined in available documents,” IDC explained.

The research firm publically acknowledged that the report comes with some controversy.

Earlier this year, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed previously classified details about spending for FY13 U.S. intelligence operations. Some documents leaked by Snowden included budget numbers for multiple intelligence operations, many of which were based on a Congressional Budget Justification document, that IDC assembled in its report.

“This IDC Government Insights Perspective document is not without controversy,” IDC Government Insights’ Shawn McCarthy explained in a brief on the report. “Officially, the annual ‘black’ U.S. intelligence budget is not released to the public, although many different organizations, including ours, have released independent estimates over the years.”

“Since that time, these numbers have been mentioned by many mainstream publications, including The Washington Post,” McCarthy said. “Because of this, we feel that the numbers are publicly available and can no longer be considered highly confidential and are, instead, open to a broader public discussion.”

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IDC assembled the numbers shared in the $1,500 report, Perspective: The U.S. Intelligence Budget Landscape – With IT Segmentation and Budget Forecast.

According to the report, many government agencies spend an average of 4.5% to 6.7% of their total annual budget on IT solutions. Intelligence agencies tend to have a higher need for computing solutions, which prompts many of them to spend more than 15% of their annual budgets on different types of information technology or data gathering technologies, the research firm said.

For an organization such as the National Security Agency, which is focused heavily on signal intelligence, communications, and data analysis, that percentage can climb to more than 30%, IDC said.

Key highlights from the report include:

• On average, IDC Government Insights calculates that about 22.5% of the black intelligence budget is targeted at various types of IT solutions.

• Overall intelligence spending is expected to rise to about $9.5 billion (18.8%) between 2013 and 2017.

• The IT portion of the overall intelligence spending is expected to grow by up to 33.6%. Much of this will go toward additional data collection technologies and flexible large-scale computing platforms.

• Spending by the CIA is the largest of any spy agency, with $14.8 billion requested for 2013. That’s nearly 70% higher than the next largest intelligence agency, the National Security Agency.

• Counterterrorism programs account for about 25% of the members of the intelligence workforce. These programs also represent about 33% of all intelligence spending.

“U.S. intelligence agencies face the same pressures as other federal agencies — to consolidate systems, to take advantage of cloud-based solutions or shared services when possible, and to use new technologies to improve and accelerate data processing,” McCarthy said in a statement.

“And while many intelligence agencies have long been chief consumers of supercomputing power, the newer styles of flexible multiprocessing are driving new rapidly scaling IT operating at a variety of facilities,” McCarthy continued.

“With their evolving focus on global data collection for international operations, intelligence agencies will be dealing with more data than ever before while integrating new solutions capable of handling that data. For this reason, we expect IT spending to continue growing at these agencies.”

Written By

For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.

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