Last month, Congress passed the Intelligence Authorization Act For The Fiscal Year 2012. The bill was passed in the house by an overwhelming 396 to 23. Details of the bill, which determines the budgets for the nation’s 16 intelligence gathering agencies, are classified but according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Senator Dianne Feinstein, the legislation “keeps funding for intelligence essentially flat from fiscal year 2011” and that the intelligence budget approved was “a meaningful reduction from the President’s request.” In 2011, the budget of spy agencies was close to $80 billion. Associated Press is reporting that despite the lack of a budget increase that the administration was hoping for, no intelligence programs will be cut. Instead, reductions will be made to “big-ticket items like the multi-billion-dollar spy satellites”.
The importance of the intelligence community has grown considerably since September 11, 2001. When President George Bush decided to take military action against the Taliban controlled country of Afghanistan, it was the CIA, not the military, who took the lead. Since then, intelligence agencies have become arguably America’s most important weapon against international terrorism and Al Qaeda, mounting thousands of operations around the world. Earlier this year, a CIA analyst was given credit for locating Osama Bin Laden in the small Pakistani town of Abbottabad. The terrorist leader was killed by a US Navy SEAL team and CIA operatives in a raid on May 2, 2011.
For cleared job seekers, the budget could be a good sign for employment prospects in 2012. There were reportedly no cuts to plans by intelligence agencies to make new hires in cybersecurity and financial intelligence. However, plans for other new hires will be trimmed back. Throughout this year’s budgetary reductions, while many agencies are shrinking their workforces, the market for cybersecurity jobs remains strong. Both federal agencies and private businesses continue to hire cybersecurity workers and this is unlikely to change in the next few years — regardless of the future direction of the economy. Thus for the foreseeable future, gaining cybersecurity skills and experience will in all likelihood lead to ample employment opportunities for job seekers.
Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.