ODNI Rethinks and Releases 2006 Intel Budget

11.01.10 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Last week, on the same day that the 2010 intelligence budget totals were revealed, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also released another previously undisclosed intelligence budget figure — the 2006 budget appropriation for the National Intelligence Program.

“The aggregate amount appropriated to the NIP for fiscal year 2006 was $40.9 Billion,” wrote John F. Hackett (pdf), director of the ODNI Information Management Office.

This  disclosure provides one more benchmark in the steady, sharp escalation of intelligence spending in the last decade.  (The NIP budgets in the subsequent years from 2007-2010 were:  $43.5 billion, $47.5 billion, $49.8 billion, and $53.1 billion.)

But what makes the new disclosure profoundly interesting and even inspiring is something else:  In 2008, Mr. Hackett determined (pdf) that disclosure of this exact same information could not be permitted because to do so would damage national security.  And just last year, ODNI emphatically affirmed that view on appeal.

“The size of the National Intelligence Program for Fiscal Year 2006 remains currently and properly classified,” wrote Gen. Ronald L. Burgess in a January 14, 2009 letter (pdf).  “In addition, the release of this information would reveal sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”

Yet upon reconsideration a year later, those ominous claims have evaporated.  In other words, ODNI has found it possible — when prompted by a suitable stimulus — to rethink its classification policy and to reach a new and opposite judgment.

This capacity for identifying, admitting (at least implicitly) and correcting classification errors is of the utmost importance.  Without it, there would be no hope for secrecy reform and no real place for public advocacy.   But as long as errors can be acknowledged and corrected, then all kinds of positive changes are possible.

The Obama Administration’s pending Fundamental Classification Guidance Review requires classifying agencies to seek out and eliminate obsolete classification requirements based on “the broadest possible range of perspectives” over the next two years.  If it fulfills its original conception, the Review will bring this latent, often dormant error correction capacity to bear on the classification system in a focused and consequential way.  There are always going to be classification errors, so there needs to be a robust, effective way to find and fix them.

See all publications
Nuclear Weapons
New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship: Creative Perspectives on Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence 

To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.

11.28.23 | 3 min read
read more
Science Policy
Expected Utility Forecasting for Science Funding

Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.

11.20.23 | 11 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Weapons Sharing, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

11.17.23 | 1 min read
read more
Social Innovation
Community School Approach Reaches High of 60%, Reports Latest Pulse Panel

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.

11.17.23 | 4 min read
read more