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ODNI FAQ


Office of the Director of National Intelligence

When was the ODNI established? 

The ODNI began operations on April 22, 2005. However, the idea of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) dates to 1955 when a blue-ribbon study commissioned by Congress recommended that the Director of Central Intelligence should employ a deputy to run the CIA so that the director could focus on coordinating the overall intelligence effort. This notion emerged as a consistent theme in many subsequent studies of the Intelligence Community commissioned by both the legislative and executive branches over the next five decades. It was the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, that finally moved forward the longstanding call for major intelligence reform and the creation of a Director of National Intelligence.

Post-9/11 investigations included a joint Congressional inquiry and the independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (better known as the 9/11 Commission). The report of the 9/11 Commission in July 2004 proposed sweeping change in the Intelligence Community, including the creation of a National Intelligence Director. Very soon after the best-selling report was released, the federal government moved forward to undertake reform. President Bush signed four Executive Orders in August 2004, which strengthened and reformed the Intelligence Community as much as possible without legislation. In Congress, both the House and Senate passed bills with major amendments to the National Security Act of 1947. Intense negotiations to reconcile the two bills ultimately led to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which President George W. Bush signed into law on December 17.

In February 2005, the President announced that John D. Negroponte, ambassador to Iraq , was his nominee to be the first Director of National Intelligence and Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, USAF, as the first Principal Deputy DNI, which earned him his fourth star. On April 21, 2005, in the Oval Office, Amb. Negroponte and Gen. Hayden were sworn in, and the ODNI began operations at 7:00 AM on April 22.

Who is the head of the ODNI?

The ODNI is headed by the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The current DNI is James R. Clapper.

What does the DNI do?

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC), overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program (budget) and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security. Working together with the Principal Deputy DNI (PDDNI), the Office of the DNI's goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad.

With this goal in mind, Congress provided the DNI with a number of authorities and duties, as outlined in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004. These charge the DNI to:

    • Ensure that timely and objective national intelligence is provided to the President, the heads of departments and agencies of the executive branch; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior military commanders; and the Congress
    • Establish objectives and priorities for collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence
    • Ensure maximum availability of and access to intelligence information within the Intelligence Community
    • Develop and ensure the execution of an annual budget for the National Intelligence program (NIP) based on budget proposals provided by IC component organizations
    • Oversee coordination of relationships with the intelligence or security services of foreign governments and international organizations
    • Ensure the most accurate analysis of intelligence is derived from all sources to support national security needs
    • Develop personnel policies and programs to enhance the capacity for joint operations and to facilitate staffing of community management functions
    • Oversee the development and implementation of a program management plan for acquisition of major systems, doing so jointly with the Secretary of Defense for DoD programs, that includes cost, schedule, and performance goals and program milestone criteria

Who oversees the ODNI?

The Intelligence Community is subject to external oversight from the Executive and Legislative branches. Within the Executive, the IC works closely with the National Security Council (NSC). Other Executive organizations involved in oversight include the following:

President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB): The PIAB provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities. The PIAB, through its Intelligence Oversight Board, also advises the President on the legality of foreign intelligence activities. Unique within the government, the PIAB traditionally has been tasked with providing the President with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the intelligence community is meeting the nation's intelligence needs and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future. The PIAB consists of not more than 16 members selected from among distinguished citizens outside the government who are qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence, and integrity.

President's Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB): Once a separate organization under the President, the IOB was made a standing committee of the PIAB in 1993. The IOB consists of not more than four members of the PIAB appointed by the Chairman of the PIAB. The mission is to oversee the Intelligence Community's compliance with the Constitution and all applicable laws, Executive Orders, and Presidential Directives. In reviewing the legality and propriety of intelligence activities, the Board advises the President on intelligence activities that the Board believes may be unlawful or contrary to Executive Order or presidential directive; are not being adequately addressed by the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, or the head of the department or agency concerned; or should be immediately brought to his attention.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB): OMB is part of the Executive Office of the President. It reviews intelligence budgets in light of presidential policies and priorities, clears proposed testimony, and approves draft intelligence legislation for submission to Congress.

Within the Congress, principal oversight responsibility rests with the two intelligence committees. By law, the President must ensure that these two committees are kept "fully and currently" informed of the activities of the Intelligence Community, including any "significant anticipated intelligence activities." Notice is also required to be provided to both committees of all covert action programs approved by the President as well as all "significant intelligence failures."

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI): The membership of the SSCI has ranged from 13 to 17, with the majority party in Congress having one more member than the minority. Members of the SSCI serve 8-year terms. In addition to its role in annually authorizing appropriations for intelligence activities, the SSCI carries out oversight investigations and inquiries as required. It also handles presidential nominations referred to the Senate for the positions of DNI, Principle Deputy DNI, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Inspector General of CIA, and reviews treaties referred to the Senate for ratification as necessary to determine the ability of the Intelligence Community to verify the provisions of the treaty under consideration.

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI): The membership of the HPSCI is currently set at 19 members and is proportional to the partisan makeup of the entire House of Representatives. Members may be appointed for terms up to eight years. Like its Senate counterpart, the HPSCI conducts oversight investigations and inquiries in addition to processing the annual authorization of appropriations for intelligence.

Other Committees: In addition to the intelligence committees, other congressional committees occasionally become involved in oversight matters by virtue of their overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities. The armed services, homeland security, and judiciary committees of each House, for example, exercise concurrent jurisdiction over the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation intelligence activities, respectively.

Through these interactions, the IC keeps policy and decision makers well informed of intelligence related to national security issues, and Congress maintains oversight of intelligence activities.

What is the significance of the ODNI seal?

The ODNI seal incorporates the DNI's charge to oversee and coordinate the foreign and domestic activities of the United States Intelligence Community. The nine elements depicted in the ODNI seal symbolize:

    • American Bald Eagle - derived from the Great Seal of the United States , the eagle represents the sovereignty of the United States
    • Escutcheon or shield - composed of 13 stripes, white signifying purity and innocence, and red signifying hardiness and valor
    • Banner stating "E Pluribus Unum" - Latin for "out of many, one", signifies this new organization uniting the many organizations in the Intelligence Community
    • Olive Branch - represents the power of peace
    • 13 Arrows - represents the power of war
    • Field of Blue (background of the seal) - signifying vigilance, perseverance and justice
    • 50 White Stars - represent the 50 states of the United States
    • Gold Lettering - spelling out "Office of the Director of National Intelligence" and " United States of America ", symbolize integrity and the highest ideals and goals

Is the ODNI part of the CIA?

No. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the National Security Act of 1947 to provide for a Director of National Intelligence who would assume some of the roles formerly fulfilled by the Director of Central Intelligence, with a separate Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who serves as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and reports to the Director of National Intelligence.

What is the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA)?

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) was approved by the Senate (bill 89-2), and President George W. Bush signed the Act on December 17, 2004, making it law. This act set into motion the reform of the US Intelligence Community. The Act is divided into eight Titles, as follows.

    • "Reform of the intelligence community"
    • "Federal Bureau of Investigation"
    • "Security clearances"
    • "Transportation security"
    • "Border protection, immigration, and visa matters"
    • "Terrorism prevention"
    • "Implementation of 9/11 Commission recommendations"
    • "Other matters"

In the words of President Bush, at the signing of the Act in 2004, "Under this new law, our vast intelligence enterprise will become more unified, coordinated and effective. It will enable us to better do our duty, which is to protect the American people."

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 also established the National Counterterrorism Center, National Counterproliferation Center, National Intelligence Centers, and Joint Intelligence Community Council -- all with the single mission of protecting the United States of America 's people and interests from enemies both at home and abroad. Click here to review the IRTPA.

Does the ODNI offer tours?

No, the ODNI does not offer tours.


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