American spy agencies were awarded $52.7 billion by the federal government in fiscal year 2013, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Joint programs operating under the National Intelligence Project (NIP) were supposed to receive $52.7 billion to carry out their various operations, though just $49 billion in total was delivered due to widespread budget cuts known as sequestration, the DNI announced on Wednesday.
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The NIP is an intelligence umbrella organization established to fund a range of U.S. spy programs, including select departments in the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), according to classified documents leaked in the media.
Others include the National Reconnaissance Program, which builds and operates American spy satellites and various espionage programs.
The funding disclosure comes as lawmakers demand greater accountability and oversight of America’s spying operations. The National Security Administration (NSA) in particular has come under increased scrutiny following multiple disclosures by leaker Edward Snowden.
The billions awarded to the NIP feed many top spy programs and constitute what the Washington Post described as a "constellation of spy agencies that tracks millions of surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes."
The NIP’s full budget—often referred to as a "black budget" due to its classified status—remains largely secret. However, the DNI is required by law to reveal the overall number of taxpayer dollars allocated to the program.
"Any and all subsidiary information concerning the NIP budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed," DNI said in its budget disclosure statement.
"Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified NIP budget information because such disclosures could harm national security," DNI said. "The only exceptions to the foregoing are for unclassified appropriations, primarily for the Community Management Account."
Spy programs associated with the NIP perform all types of intelligence and reconnaissance work on both domestic and foreign soil, according to the White House.
Some NIP programs "identify and disrupt counterintelligence threats," while others "maintain the security of Federal cyber networks," and "provide strategic warning on issues of geopolitical and economic concern," according to a White House fact sheet on the intelligence program.
The NIP budget also funds global intelligence operations, including many in the Middle East, as well as cyber security programs.
Information gleaned from the NIP’s budget show that "the CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as "offensive cyber operations," the Post reported based off of Snowden’s leaked documents.
Recent disclosure that the NSA spied on at least 35 world leaders, including those of friendly nations, have led Congress to consider legislation aimed at reigning in its clandestine operations.
One bill being considered would prevent the NSA from collecting large numbers of phone records, as it has done for the past several years.