The National Reconnaissance Office, which develops, launches and operates U.S. intelligence satellites, last week released most of the unclassified portions (pdf) of its Congressional Budget Justification Book for FY2009. While those unclassified portions are only a small fraction of the full budget document, they still provide a fresh glimpse or two of the agency and its four directorates (IMINT, SIGINT, Advanced Systems and Technology, and Communications).
“The U.S. is arguably more reliant on overhead collection that ever before,” the NRO says, while “intelligence problems are becoming more complex and increasingly require synergistic, multi-INT, multi-source solutions.” See “National Reconnaissance Program,” FY2009 Congressional Budget Justification, February 2008, released under the Freedom of Information Act July 2009.
The NRO has suffered serious acquisition failures in recent years and it has been rumored, unconfirmably, that the agency may be broken up or reorganized. (“Spy Agency May Face Ax” by Colin Clark, DoD Buzz, July 1, 2009). Meanwhile, President Obama reportedly issued a directive last spring — Presidential Study Directive 2 — ordering a review of classified space activities. (“President Orders Sweeping U.S. Space Policy Review” by Amy Klamper, Space News, July 6, 2009).