By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The budget next year for National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte's office and the several agencies attached to it may be near $1 billion or more, according to language buried in the report of the House intelligence committee on the fiscal 2007 intelligence authorization bill.
The exact budget total for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is classified, but the report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence contains a figure by the Congressional Budget Office of $990 million for the intelligence community management account that provides the principal funding for the ODNI.
Negroponte will use that money to coordinate intelligence programs, prepare budgets for the 16 agencies within the intelligence community and pay for the National Counterterrorism Center and other agencies absorbed into the ODNI. In comparison, spending for the intelligence community management account, when it served the former CIA director in his role of director of central intelligence, was less than $200 million a year.
Members of Congress who wrote the legislation creating the DNI had expected it to be a lean management organization with a staff of about 750. At a recent news conference, DNI officials said their staff, including all agencies, totals 1,539 people.
The proposed budget, which is about one-third the size of all CIA funding in years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is far larger than expected. DNI officials recently attributed the growth to their absorbing of existing agencies and unfunded tasks.
A senior ODNI official said yesterday that he could not comment on the committee's $990 million figure until he receives the classified annex of the legislation, which is expected to be taken up by the House when lawmakers return next week from their Easter/Passover recess.
Members of the House intelligence panel have voiced concern before about the rapid growth of the DNI operation and have put on hold a portion of the proposed 2007 funding until they receive a report from Negroponte on the growth of his operation. Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) told a news conference last month that he wanted to be reassured that the growth "is in coordination and the collaborative process, not in putting in more layers and slowing down the process."
Although many of the staff have moved this week to temporary quarters on the top two floors of a new Defense Intelligence Agency building at Bolling Air Force Base, ODNI officials are looking at sites where they can construct their own headquarters.
Since Bolling has available acreage and is near downtown Washington, Negroponte's staff has asked Congress to rewrite a provision of the 2004 statute creating his office that would have the effect of preventing DNI from building a new headquarters there.