The National Reconnaissance Office has released a heavily redacted version of the Fiscal Year 2008 Congressional Budget Justification Book for the National Reconnaissance Program. It provides a few intriguing glimpses of the intelligence agency in transition.
“Ten years ago, a user might be satisfied with an image or a signal intercept; now users demand fused, multidiscipline, multi-phenomenology information tailored to a specific location or area of interest,” wrote Donald M. Kerr, then-director of the NRO.
“The mission of the NRO remains the same– the research, development, acquisition, launch and operation of overhead reconnaissance systems and other missions as directed to solve intelligence problems,” the budget document stated. “However, the focus of the NRO and the way it executes the mission will change. NRO’s priority for the future is to increase the value of the information its systems can deliver, chiefly through a variety of improvements in ground systems for rapid, adaptive, multisensor tasking, processing, exploitation, cross-cueing, and dissemination.”
Development, acquisition and operation of intelligence satellites are still the main business of the NRO.
“Careful stewardship of limited budget resources is increasingly critical as the NRO undertakes the daunting task of designing and building the next generation of satellite systems,” the document said.
“In general, IMINT [imagery intelligence] acquisition programs meet established performance requirements but are less successful in achieving cost and schedule goals,” the document acknowledged.
The NRO budget book was released in redacted (declassified) form in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.