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 implement 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.