1. Something Strange in NSA’s Budget Numbers

    August 31, 2013

    Last night I was going through the National Security Agency’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget numbers contained in the recent leaked extract of the FY 2013 National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget submission sent to Congress back in February 2012. Something strange came out of my examination of the numbers.

    It turns out that NSA spends vastly greater sums on management support, infrastructure maintenance, and facilities and logistics than it does on signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection, processing and analysis. Take a look at where NSA’s $10,767,765 FY 2013 budget went in order of spending:

    Combined Cryptologic Program (CCP) FY 2013 Budget

    All figures below in 000s.

    Facilities & Logistics $1,616,718

    Enterprise IT Systems $1,589,304

    Enterprise Management $1,224,671

    Computer Network Operations $1,024,291

    Cryptanalysis & Exploitation  $1,003,187

    Analysis Enabling $824,514

    Analysis  $654,642

    Sensitive Technical Collection: $597,284

    Special Source Access  $463,460

    Research & Technology  $429,113

    Mission Management/Tasking:  $386,975

    Mid Point RF Access  $380,618

    Mission Processing & Exploitation  $304,799

    SIGINT Stations  $268,189

    TOTAL: $10,767,765

    Here are my takeaways from these figures:

    * It is staggering to me that NSA’s single largest spending line item by far is “Facilities & Logistics” and not one of the various SIGINT collection line items. It is even more staggering that NSA spends an incredible $1.6 billion on facilities and logistic when the CIA only spends 171.5 million for facilities and logistics. It has been a few years since I retired from the financial investigations business, but this single budget line item alone screams out for a General Accountability Office (GAO) financial audit.

    * The fact that NSA’s next two largest spending line items also raise all sorts of Red Flags about the agency’s spending. In FY 2013 NSA asked Congress for $1.5 billion for what the agwncy described as “Enterprise IT Systems”, i.e. computers and telecommunications systems; and $1.2 billion for “Enterprise Management,” which is bureaucratese for the cost of running the agency, i.e. bureaucracy.

    * In other words, NSA’s top three budget line items, totalling more than $4.4 billion or 40% of NSA’s annual budget, have nothing to do with the agency’s core mission of SIGINT collection, processing, analysis and reporting, or protecting the security of the U.S. government and military’s computers and telecommunications systems.

    I know this is not sexy stuff, but do you, like me, wonder if all the money we are spending on these massive intelligence agencies like NSA, is being properly spent??? These figures give me some real pause for concern on this score.

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