America’s secret intelligence budget, in 11 (nay, 13) charts

August 29, 2013

Barton Gellman, the crazy good investigative reporter who broke the NSA story for us a few months back, has a major scoop with Greg Miller and researcher Julie Tate breaking down the Black Budget, a $52.6 billion portion of the federal government that goes to the CIA, NSA, and other secret intelligence agencies. They got the budget from Edward Snowden, who, you'll recall, was also the whistleblower responsible for the NSA story. Since 2007, we've known how much the total Black Budget is (before that, with some years excepted, we didn't even know that), but not how much is spent on specific things. Now we know that too.

You can read a PDF of the budget's basics here, and read Gellman and Miller's story here. Wilson Andrews and Todd Lindeman at the graphics team did an awesome interactive breaking down the budget here. But if you're in a rush, here are the basics of what we know now that we didn't yesterday.

We spend more, across the whole Black Budget, on providing warnings of impending big events than on fighting terrorism or WMDs:

The most commonly spoken language in the intelligence community is Spanish, followed by Arabic. Farsi, not so much:

The CIA, NSA and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) receive more than 68 percent of the black budget. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Program’s (NGP) budget has grown over 100 percent since 2004.

The CIA's our best-funded intelligence-related agency:

Though its funding fell in FY2013:

The overwhelming majority of CIA spending is on collecting intelligence:

National Reconnaissance Office (and other reconnaissance) spending, meanwhile, has been stagnant for a while:

And its spending is also mainly on collections:

Our cryptography programs have also seen stagnant spending since 2010, after a big jump from 2007 to 2010:

Which goes to more diverse functions:

The Community Management Account, which is led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, saw funding go way up as the DNI office was phased in, but has seen it fall since 2011:

It spends mainly on management activities:

As the above shows, each agency has a unique breakdown of expenses that reflect the priorities of its mission:

Update: Our awesome colleagues on the graphics team have made their visualizations embeddable, so those are added above, for a total of 13 charts.

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Sarah Kliff · August 29, 2013