A little more than a year ago, I published an analysis of the intelligence budget (Doing Way More With Much Less). It’s time I update that analysis based on the budget request the President sent to Congress last week.
The figures below are the same as those provided by the ODNI, only adjusted for inflation. They include appropriated funds for 2015 and requested funds for 2016 and 2017. You can also see intelligence budget trends going back to 1980, again adjusted for inflation. For more on the methodology, check out this report from the Congressional Research Service.
Overall, the situation has changed from 2014, when the intelligence budget had declined for five straight years even while the intelligence community was being asked to respond to new crises around the globe. At that time, I was skeptical that the IC would be able to adapt sufficiently to a world of declining budgets and growing threats. Assuming that appropriated funds are close to requested amounts, the budget is now basically flat and was slightly up in 2016.
According to Director Clapper’s Worldwide Threat Assessment last week, the threat environment is more complex today than it ever has been before. U.S. intelligence agencies are launching major reorganizations to adapt to that environment. The stable budget should at least give the IC breathing room as it adapts and move forward with those reorganizations.
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