Top-secret budget figures detailing the vast operations of U.S. spy agencies reveal not only the agencies' expansive reach, but also the massive size of their enterprise IT and data processing capabilities.
The figures, provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and published Aug. 30 by the Washington Post, provide a glimpse into the money the CIA, the NSA and the intelligence community as a whole spend annually to collect, process and analyze data.
The budget figures, from a top-secret report called the Fiscal 2013 Congressional Budget Justification Book, show that the U.S. budgeted $52.6 billion in fiscal 2013 to support the operations of 16 intelligence agencies, including $14.7 billion for the CIA, $10.8 billion for the NSA and $10.3 billion for the National Reconnaissance Office. For data collection, processing and analysis across intelligence agencies, the budget breaks down as follows:
--$25.3 billion for raw data collection, including technical surveillance from electronic and satellite sources, as well through personal interactions with sources.
[ How does the recently revealed cooperation between the Drug Enforcement Agency and the NSA affect you? Read DEA, NSA Teamwork: 6 Privacy Worries. ]
--$6.1 billion for data processing and exploitation, including information filtering, message decoding, translating broadcasts, processing imagery, preparing information for computer processing, and storing and retrieving data.
--$6.2 billion for data analysis whereby data is distilled and correlated with other material and turned into intelligence reports provided to the president and policymakers.
Additionally, budget details made public by the Washington Post reveal that intelligence agencies collectively spent $4.7 billion on enterprise IT systems. An agency-by-agency breakdown shows:
-- The NSA budgeted $1.59 billion for enterprise IT systems, $1.02 billion for computer network operations and $650 million for data analysis.
-- The CIA budgeted $530 million for enterprise IT systems, $690 million for computer network operations and $660 million for data analysis.
-- The National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and operates the nation's electronic communications and imagery reconnaissance satellites, budgeted $840 million for enterprise IT systems, $2.12 billion to gather and process imagery from government satellites, and $1.38 billion for technology and personnel dedicated to intercepting communications between people, between machines or both.
--The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which collects and generates location-based information and images globally, budgeted $1.02 billion for enterprise IT systems and $930 million for data analysis.
The budget reveals that the CIA and the General Defense Intelligence Program will spend $620 million to process publicly available information appearing in print or electronic form, including content from radio, TV, newspapers and the Internet.
In publishing the budget details, the Washington Post quoted a statement from James Clapper, director of national intelligence: "The United States has made a considerable investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks of 9/11."
Clapper said: "Today's world is as fluid and unstable as it has been in the past half century. Even with stepped-up spending" over the past decade, he said, the U.S. spends less than 1% of GDP on the intelligence community.
Nonetheless, intelligence IT spending now exceeds IT spending at every other federal agency except the Department of Defense, which budgeted $41.8 billion in fiscal 2013. In comparison, the next largest federal IT budgets for 2013 were for the Department of Health and Human Services, at $7.4 billion, and the Department of Homeland Security, at $5.7 billion.