With about $25 million in budget cuts set to be axed over the next ten years, the intelligence community faces some major changes. Some of these changes could create new security risks, according to top officials.
“We’re going to have less capability in 10 years than we have today,” said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “This is about risk management, because we’re going to have some risk.”
One security risk could be neglecting intelligence efforts to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said a former intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Clapper and other intelligence and congressional officials said that intelligence cuts will come from consolidating a multitude of different information technology systems that cost about $12 billion a year. “The focus right now is on eliminating unnecessary and redundant IT systems” across the intelligence community, Clapper said.
This means the intelligence community will move toward more cloud computing, single enterprises, and thin clients loaded with fewer applications. This will help reduce the reliance on outside vendors, help desks and contractors, Clapper and other officials said. Still, the intelligence community will continue to rely on contractors since they make it easier and less expensive for the intelligence community to add and subtract people as the nation’s needs and interests change, Clapper said.
The intelligence community will maintain research and development of new technologies and invest in “overhead” — the spy satellites that photograph, watch, listen, measure and map areas that interest or concern U.S. policy makers, according to Clapper.
Leaders within the intelligence community say they remain committed to protect the country, even in the midst of increasing demands and the need for a diversity of skills among intelligence analysts. Today’s intelligence community ranges from traditional spies with language skills, NSA code-breakers and linguists, and analysts in multiple agencies who must sort through the increasing information from spies, informants, tweets, Facebook pages, news articles, emails, spy satellites and overheard phone conversations.