U.S. spy chief proposes double-digit budget cuts

WASHINGTON Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:32pm EDT

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington February 16, 2011.   REUTERS/Jason Reed

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington February 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday said he has proposed double-digit budget cuts in intelligence programs to the White House because "we're all going to have to give at the office."

Clapper, in a speech at the GEOINT conference in Texas, said his office had "handed in our homework assignment" to the Office of Management and Budget, "and it calls for cuts in the double-digit range, with a B (for billion), over 10 years."

In February the DNI had requested $55 billion in appropriations for fiscal year 2012, which started October 1. Congress has not given final approval to any of the regular full-year spending bills and the government is being funded by short-term measures.

"We too in the IC (Intelligence Community) are going to contribute to reducing the deficit which itself poses a profound threat to national security," Clapper said.

The DNI oversees 17 intelligence agencies and only publicly releases an aggregate budget figure for intelligence programs without a breakdown for the different agencies.

Clapper did not give a precise percentage figure for the proposed cuts. Because of that and the secretive nature of the intelligence budget, it was unclear how much total savings over 10 years he was promising.

He said the budget cuts would mainly focus on efficiencies in information technology but would include cuts in contractors and that he would investigate whether some overseas facilities could be closed.

There was "huge potential" for savings in information technology, as about 20-25 percent of the 2012 budget request was in that area. He said it would mean making use of technological advances such as in cloud computing.

The goal over the 10-year period would be to accomplish half of the needed savings through information technology efficiencies, Clapper said.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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