The U.S.’s Top Secret $52.6 Billion Spy Budget — By The Numbers


The Washington Post on Thursday for the first time revealed the breakdown of the classified $52.6 billion budget that the United States uses to finance its spying operations overseas, the latest in a series of revelations about how the U.S. conducts its tradecraft.

The Washington Post obtained the documents from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who allegedly leaked the documents because he believes they expose the wrongdoings of American surveillance procedures. But this document is a 178-page, Fiscal Year 13 version of the budget summary that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence puts together annually to describe how its funds are being spent across the 16 intelligence agencies.

Formally known as the Congressional Budget Justification for the National Intelligence Program (NIP), only the top-line number has made been available to the public in the past, and even that has only been provided since 2007.

Due to the sensitive nature of the document, which goes into great detail about some of the agencies’ successes and failures over the last year, the Post agreed to publish only summary tables and charts online. ThinkProgress has gone though those summaries and charts along with the Post’s story and pulled out some of the most interesting numbers:

  • 28 — Percentage of total NIP spending carved out for the Central Intelligence Agency. That works out to about $14.7 billion, an amount higher than every other intelligence agency.
  • $10.5 billion — The proposed NSA budget for Fiscal Year 2013, which is part of the Consolidated Cryptologic Program in the overall NIP budget. Funding for the CCP reached its highest point in the last decade in 2011, at nearly $12 billion.
  • $4.9 billion — The amount of the NIP’s total budget from the “Overseas Contingency Operations” budget. OCO funding refers to spending dedicated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the 2011 strikes in Libya. In the case of the NIP, the CIA accounts for roughly half of this spending. The amount devoted towards Iraq has been substantially reduced, including the elimination of programs for “media exploitation, commercial imagery, and other operational enablers.”
  • 5 — Priority targets of U.S. counterintelligence efforts. China, Russia, Iran, and Cuba’s presence on the list should raise no eyebrows, but close ally Israel’s inclusion on the list may be a surprise to some. In 2012, however, the Associated Press detailed the spy threat the U.S. views Israel as being.
  • 1/3 — Amount of the total NIP budget devoted to counterterrorism efforts. This includes efforts in the Horn of Africa and in Libya, the latter of which has been transferred into the regular budget from OCO funding.
  • 107,035 — The total number of employees across the Intelligence Community. That includes the CIA, NSA, National Reconnaissance Office, and the intelligence offices tucked within the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security.
  • 18 — Percent of the total employees who are federal contractors. On average, contractors cost about twice as much for the same amount of labor as government employees.
  • 4,000 — The minimum reinvestigations of personnel the Intelligence Community will launch in FY 2013 to prevent new leaks. The administration’s Insider Threat Program has been criticized recently as encouraging employees to spy on each other and as a possible infringement on their privacy.
  • 3 — NIP employees paid for learning to speak Hausa — a West African language — last fiscal year. The intelligence community doles out bonuses for its employees gaining proficiency in foreign languages, including nine “Special Interest Languages.”
  • 5 — the number of countries listed by name as part of ongoing counterproliferation efforts. They include gathering intelligence on Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, increasing knowledge about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and tracking “WMD targets such as chemical weapons in Libya and Syria.”
  • $23 billion — The amount of funding not included in the NIP budget that goes to the military’s various intelligence branches.
  • $165 million — the amount of funding the FY 2013 budget transfers between the NIP and military programs, along with 1,078 positions, to better “delineate programming responsibility” and “optimize resource allocation.”