Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) on January 13 introduced H.R. 3855, The Intelligence Budget Transparency Act, which would require the federal government to disclose the dollar amount proposed to be spent on intelligence activities for each element of the government.
Lummis was joined in introducing this bi-partisan bill by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), David Price (D-NC), Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
This bill will require the top-line funding levels for all government funded intelligence agencies to be made public, explained a news release issued by Lummis’ congressional office. “This gives basic oversight of funding but does not inhibit or compromise America’s intelligence operations,” said the release.
Lummis also has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to submit the funding numbers for intelligence agencies in his annual budget for FY 2015.
“Providing for our national security and safeguarding Americans’ freedoms are fundamental roles of the federal government and ensuring effective intelligence is critical to that work,” said the Wyoming congresswoman, the sole member of the House from her state. “However, writing checks without any idea of where the money is going is bad policy. Disclosing the top-line budgets of each of our intelligence agencies promotes basic accountability among the agencies charged with protecting Americans without compromising our national security interests.”
For video of Rep. Lummis at a press conference on The Intelligence Budget Transparency Act, please click the arrow below.
The bill would apply to at least the following 16 agencies known to receive taxpayer funding for intelligence activities.
Air Force Intelligence
Central Intelligence Agency
Coast Guard Intelligence
Defense Intelligence Agency
Department of Energy
Department of Homeland Security
Department of State
Department of the Treasury
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Marine Corps Intelligence
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Reconnaissance Office
National Security Agency
The Lummis-Welch-Price letter to the President appears below:
January 14, 2014
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Ensuring America’s national security requires professional and competent intelligence agencies to perform this vital mission. But the urgency of the mission assigned to the sixteen agencies charged with this responsibility should not shield them from budget accountability and transparency. In fact, the urgency of their mission makes the need for transparency greater in order to assure Congress and the American people of the quality and effectiveness of their work.
As the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission Report) states, “when even aggregate categorical numbers remain hidden, it is hard to judge priorities and foster accountability.”
The current practice of providing no specificity whatsoever regarding the overall budget requests for each intelligence agency falls woefully short of basic accountability requirements.
In August, the Washington Post reported for the first time on the spending levels of individual intelligence agencies. This report provided a small but important window into the previously secret intelligence budget. For example, it revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency received a 56 percent increase in its budget over the past 10 years while the National Security Agency received a 54 percent increase.
As you develop your fiscal year 2015 budget, we strongly urge you to take a simple step toward much needed transparency by including the total amount requested for each of the sixteen intelligence agencies. We believe the top line number for each agency should be made public, with no risk to national security, for comparative purposes across all federal government agencies. Congress and the American people will be better served by knowing this basic information.
Mr. President, we understand you will soon announce a series of reforms regarding intelligence gathering, reporting and judicial review. Providing basic information about the intelligence budget in your fiscal year 2015 budget request would be a further step in the right direction and is wholly consistent with the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission Report.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis
Rep. Peter Welch
Rep. David Price