The IC’s authority to conduct intelligence activities is governed by numerous laws and regulations. Of primary importance is Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities. Most recently amended in 2008, the executive order sets strategic goals and defines roles and responsibilities within the IC, while also affirming the Nation’s commitment to protect Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights in the conduct of intelligence activities.


Executive Order 12333 establishes this balance by prescribing general principles governing intelligence collection, retention and dissemination, and by specifying that intelligence activities concerning U.S. persons may only be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the element or department head and approved by the Attorney General, after consultation with the Director of National Intelligence.

Intelligence Oversight

Intelligence oversight is a mechanism to ensure that the IC conducts intelligence activities in a manner that that achieves the proper balance between the acquisition of essential information and protection of individual interests. The oversight is performed by entities inside and outside of the IC, which allows the IC to account for the lawfulness of its intelligence activities to the American people, to Congress, to the President and to itself. ODNI engages and coordinates with the following entities in advance of actions where appropriate and provides reports or briefings of intelligence activities to the entities. 

The Intelligence Community

ODNI has several offices responsible for oversight functions, to include the Office of General Counsel, the IC Inspector General, and the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency. Each of these offices work to ensure that ODNI operates in a manner that promotes IC-wide positive impact that is in accordance with the Constitution and other laws, regulations, executive orders and directives or policies. Each element has similar offices that assist in oversight for the respective element.

Executive Branch

President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) -- The PIAB is an element within the Executive Office of the President.  The PIAB exists exclusively to provide the President with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the IC 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 distinguished citizens outside the government. The PIAB has access to all information necessary to perform its functions.


The Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) -- The IOB, a standing committee of the PIAB since 1993, consists of not more than four members of the PIAB appointed by the Chairman of the PIAB. The IOB is charged with overseeing the IC’s compliance with the Constitution and all applicable laws, Executive Orders, and Presidential Directives. 


Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) -- The PCLOB is an independent agency established by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, Pub. L. 110-53, signed into law in August 2007.  Composed of four part-time members and a full-time chairman, the Board's responsibilities comprise two basic functions: oversight and advice.  In its oversight role, the Board is authorized to continually review the implementation of executive branch policies, procedures, regulations, and information sharing practices relating to efforts to protect the nation from terrorism, in order to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected and to determine whether they are consistent with governing laws, regulations, and policies regarding privacy and civil liberties.  In its advice role, the Board is authorized to review proposed legislation, regulations, and policies (as well as the implementation of new and existing policies and legal authorities), in order to advise the President and executive branch agencies on ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in their development and implementation. The Board is also directed by statute to, when appropriate, coordinate the activities of federal agency privacy and civil liberties officers on relevant interagency matters.


Office of Management and Budget (OMB) -- OMB is part of the Executive Office of the President. OMB carries out its mission through five critical processes that are essential to the President’s ability to plan and implement his priorities across the Executive Branch: (1) Budget development and execution; (2) Management, including oversight of agency performance, human capital, Federal procurement, financial management, and information technology; (3) Regulatory policy, including coordination and review of all significant Federal regulations by executive agencies (4) Legislative clearance and coordination; (5) Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda.

Legislative Branch

Pursuant to Section 502 of the National Security Act of 1947, which states that the heads of the IC agencies shall “keep congressional intelligence committees fully and currently information of all intelligence activities of the United States,” ODNI ensures that congressional committees are apprised of the activities of the IC, by providing notice of any significant anticipated intelligence activities and notice of potential intelligence failures.


The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) is the principal interface between the ODNI and the Congress. In addition to providing support and legislative strategy to the ODNI senior leadership, OLA serves as a focal point within the Intelligence Community Legislative Affairs cadre for legislative views, which are provided to the Office of Management and Budget as part of its interagency coordination process.


OLA serves as a focal point for the Intelligence Community for the production of the Annual Threat Assessment provided to Congress each year. The Director of National Intelligence traditionally serves as the principal witness, although other IC agencies senior representatives join the witness table. These hearings usually involve open and/or closed sessions before separate intelligence oversight and national security committees; open hearings often are televised. The National Intelligence Council works closely with OLA to coordinate the preparation and execution of these hearings.


In addition, the President’s annual budget request for the National Intelligence Program normally results in additional closed hearings. The Office of the Assistant Director of National Intelligence – Chief Financial Officer works closely with OLA to coordinate the preparation and execution of these hearings.

Judicial Branch

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established in 1978 when Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The Court sits in Washington D.C., and is composed of eleven federal district court judges who are designated by the Chief Justice of the United States.  Each judge serves for a maximum of seven years. By statute, the judges must be drawn from at least seven of the United States judicial circuits, and three of the judges must reside within 20 miles of the District of Columbia. 


Pursuant to FISA, the Court entertains applications submitted by the United States Government for approval of electronic surveillance, physical search, and other investigative actions for foreign intelligence purposes.  Most of the Court’s work is conducted ex parte as required by statute, and due to the need to protect classified national security information. 


Additionally, the FISC assesses sufficiency of IC foreign intelligence procedures and receives compliance reports from the IC concerning violations of FISA. 

The IC develops and maintains intelligence and information sharing relationships with international, military, domestic, and private sector partners to promote intelligence-related communications, standardize processes for collaboration, lead coordination of IC information sharing and foreign liaison issues, identify emerging issues, forge solutions in support of military operations, and maximize the use of private sector information and expertise to support intelligence missions while protecting privacy and civil liberties. Examples of these activities include:

In-STeP: The Intelligence Science & Technology Partnership

Purposefully inclusive, the In-STeP program casts a broad net. If a given technology, research effort, or idea advances the state of the art with respect to IC interests, In-STeP wants to know about it, regardless of origin. Information exchange and key partnerships with the private sector, various research centers, and a diversity of other technology providers are vital to ensuring that the IC maintains access to world-class technology, as well as a strong posture against technological surprise. An essential component of that exchange is for partners to understand the IC’s often-unique S&T needs, so their research and development can be tailored toward fielding capabilities that ultimately solve intelligence challenges. Visit the In-STeP website to learn more.



The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity invests in high-risk/high-payoff research to provide the U.S. with an overwhelming intelligence advantage. As the only research organization within the ODNI, IARPA works with the other 16 IC elements to address the IC’s most challenging problems that can be solved with science and technology.


IARPA performs no research in-house; rather, it funds researchers in colleges, universities, companies, National Labs, and other organizations, in fields as diverse as artificial intelligence, asset validation and identity intelligence, bio-security, chemical detection, cyber security, high performance computing, human judgment, linguistics, radio frequency geolocation, and secure manufacturing of microelectronics.


In addition to using traditional contracts and grants, IARPA uses public challenges to award cash prizes to researchers for innovative solutions that achieve specific goals. To date, IARPA has funded over 500 unique organizations (academia, small businesses, large businesses and non-profits). Over 1,500 unique bidders have been part of research proposals and abstracts submitted to IARPA.


Every four years since 1997, the National Intelligence Council has published its Global Trends report, an unclassified strategic assessment of how key trends and uncertainties might shape the world over the next 20 years to help senior US leaders think and plan for the longer term. The report is timed to be especially relevant for the administration of a newly elected U.S. President, but Global Trends increasingly has served to foster discussions about the future with people around the world.


These global consultations, both in preparing the paper and sharing the results, help the NIC and broader U.S. Government learn from perspectives beyond the United States and are useful in sparkling discussions about key assumptions, priorities, and choices.


Since 1979, the NIC has served a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, as well as a facilitator for outreach to outside experts. The NIC's National Intelligence Officers, drawn from government, academia and the private sector, are the IC's senior substantive experts on a range of issues and work under the auspices of the ODNI.


The NIC covers the regions of the world as well as functional topics, such as economics, security, technology, cyber, terrorism, and the environment. The NIC coordinates Intelligence Community support for U.S. policy deliberations while producing papers and formal National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on critical national security questions.

The Intelligence Community’s role is to provide timely, insightful, objective, and relevant intelligence to inform decisions on national security issues and events; the IC does not make policy recommendations.



Analytic objectivity and sound intelligence tradecraft ensure our nation’s leaders receive unbiased and accurate intelligence to inform their decisions. 


The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRPTA) mandated that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “assign an individual or entity to be responsible for ensuring that finished intelligence products produced by the intelligence community are timely, objective, independent of political considerations, based on all sources of available intelligence, and employ the standards of proper analytic tradecraft.”


ODNI has further codified these standards in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203, Analytic Standards. The IC Analytic Standards were established in 2007, and revised, revalidated, and approved by the DNI in January 2015.

ICD 203

These analytics standards govern the production and evaluation of analytic products, articulate the responsibility of intelligence analysts to strive for excellence, integrity and rigor in their analytic thinking and work practices, and delineate the role of the ODNI Analytic Ombuds. ICD 203 serves as a common foundation for developing education and training in analytic skills.


The Directive articulates five Analytic Standards, which demand that analysis be: objective, independent of political consideration, timely, based on all available sources, and "implement and exhibit" nine Analytic Tradecraft Standards:

  • Properly describe the quality and credibility of underlying sources, data and methodologies
  • Properly express and explain uncertainties associated with major analytic judgments
  • Properly distinguish between underlying intelligence information and analysts' assumptions and judgements
  • Incorporate analysis of alternatives
  • Demonstrate customer relevance and address implications
  • Use clear and logical argumentation
  • Explain change to or consistency of analytic judgements and bring significant differences in analytical judgement, such as between two IC analytic elements, to the attention of consumers
  • Make accurate judgments and assessments
  • Incorporate effective visual information where appropriate


IRTPA Section 1020 tasked the ODNI with identifying a Safeguard of Objectivity in Intelligence Analysis to be available to analysts to counsel, conduct arbitration, offer recommendations, and, as appropriate, initiate inquiries into real or perceived problems of analytic tradecraft or politicization, biased reporting, or lack of objectivity in intelligence analysis. This safeguard is the ODNI Analytic Ombuds. ICD 203 directs the heads of IC elements to designate a similar individual or office to respond to concerns raised by the element’s analysts about adherence to analytic standards.


The ODNI Analytic Ombuds meets its IRTPA mandated responsibilities by:

  • Serving as the principal advisor to the DNI on safeguarding analytic objectivity
  • Responding to analysts' inquiries for independent, impartial, informal, confidential counsel to resolve objectivity concerns
  • Administering a survey of analysts to evaluate how well the IC is preserving objectivity

IRTPA also requires ODNI to perform detailed reviews of analytic products. ICD203 further directs that IC elements conduct internal programs of review and evaluation of analytic intelligence products using the IC Analytic Standards as the core criteria, and provide annual status reporting to ODNI.


ODNI meets its IRTPA mandated responsibilities by:

  • Evaluating hundreds of finished analytic products from all IC elements;
  • Conducting interviews among senior IC customers.


Intelligence Community senior leaders believe strongly that diversity is a mission-critical imperative, essential to ensuring our Nation's security and success in the war on terror. The IC is united in protecting and preserving national security. This could not be accomplished without a talented workforce that embraces "Diversity" as a core values of its Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community.


To combat emergent global, and increasingly complex national security threats, the IC must employ, develop, and retain a dynamic, agile workforce that reflects diversity in its broadest context: cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, race, gender,  age, disability, gender identify, heritage, language proficiency, and perspectives.


To that end, in early 2006, the Director of National Intelligence appointed the first Chief of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) for the IC and made the decision soon thereafter to merge this office with the IC Diversity Strategies Division (formerly in the IC Chief Human Capital Office) to better integrate EEO and diversity functions and leverage resources.


This Office of IC EEO and Diversity (EEOD) reports directly to the DNI. In addition to its IC-wide responsibilities, IC EEOD also provides these services for the ODNI workforce and organization. In July 2005, the DNI issued his first DNI's Policy Statement on Diversity to the IC.


In 2015, ODNI launched the IC Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Enterprise Strategy, 2015-2020, which sets the strategic direction for numerous ongoing efforts across the community.  Now, senior executives are held accountable through performance plan objectives that require they describe how they are creating a more inclusive organizational culture.  All senior executives must also complete unconscious bias training.


In June 2016, the ODNI released its first public report on Intelligence Community workforce demographics, the latest in a series of steps shedding light on the IC’s struggle to recruit talented officers who mirror the diverse country they serve.


2015 IC Demographic Report - Banner


The report, the Annual Demographic Report: Hiring and Retention of Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities in the United States Intelligence Community Fiscal Year 2015, provides an in-depth examination of IC diversity as of Sept. 30, 2015. The report is required by Congress and has been provided to oversight bodies annually since 2005 but had never been publicly released.


The report highlights key initiatives and accomplishments and tracks the IC's progress and areas for improvement in diversity hiring, promotion, career development, and attrition. Overall, the FY 2015 analysis indicates that the IC continues to make progress in increasing the representation of minorities, women, and persons with disabilities.


In January 2017, the IC Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office released Diversity and Inclusion: Examining Workforce Concerns within the Intelligence Community. This report provides an in-depth examination of barriers pertaining to hiring, retention, and career development of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the IC.


This report builds upon extensive prior data analysis and reporting conducted annually  across the IC and examines underrepresented groups’ concerns in the workplace through the lens of an extensive literature review, with the goal of determining why these issues continue to exist despite numerous attempts to break them down.


The result is a first-of-its-kind effort to look at diversity and inclusion across the entire IC as an integrated entity, which highlights six major areas where the IC can take an integrated approach to reduce or eliminate workplace challenges to hiring and retaining a more diverse workforce.


All employees are accountable for cultivating a performance-driven culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness without the fear of reprisal. To meet these objectives, the IC will:


  • Shape a diverse and inclusive workforce with the skills and capabilities needed now and in the future

  • Provide continuous learning and development programs based on a mutual commitment between managers and employees to promote workforce competency, relevance, and agility

  • Nurture a culture of innovation and agility that advocates the sharing of ideas and resources adaptable to the changing environment, and promotes best practices across the IC

  • Provide a workplace free of discrimination, harassment, and the fear of reprisal, where all are treated with dignity and respect and afforded equal opportunity to contribute to their full potential.

The IC will continue to attract, develop, engage, and retain a workforce that possesses both the capabilities necessary to address current and evolving threats and a strong sense of integrity.


Special emphasis is needed to recruit, retain, develop, and motivate employees with skills fundamental to the success of the intelligence mission, including foreign language, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The Director of National Intelligence serves as the head of the U.S. Intelligence Community, overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to national security. The President appoints the DNI with the advice and consent of the Senate.


The DNI works closely with a President-appointed, Senate-confirmed Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence to effectively integrate all national and homeland security intelligence in defense of the homeland and in support of U.S. national security interests.


The National Security Act of 1947, as amended by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, provides that the DNI is the head of the Intelligence Community and designates the DNI as the principal intelligence advisor to the President. To that end, Congress has provided the DNI with a number of authorities and duties, including 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 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.

The core mission of the ODNI is to lead the IC in intelligence integration. Intelligence integration means synchronizing collection, analysis, and counterintelligence so that they are fused, effectively operating as one team. Our vision is a nation made more secure by a fully integrated, agile, resilient, and innovative Intelligence Community that exemplifies America’s values.


The Intelligence Community maintains several national centers that integrate and coordinate the activities of the entire IC, or in some cases, broader U.S. Government activities.  At ODNI these include the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), the National Counterproliferation and Biosecurity Center (NCBC), the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) and the Foreign Malign Influence Center (FMIC). 


ODNI center seals


Many other agencies also have internal mission centers that integrate and coordinate their agency’s efforts in a certain mission area, such as CIA’s Counterterrorism Mission Center and DIA’s regional centers.


Our success as a Community is measured as much by our defense of America’s values as it is by the execution of our intelligence mission.


IC elements support policymakers in civilian departments, the U.S. military, Congress, and tribal/local/state governments. The breadth and scope of products and other support to customers vary greatly.

A number of policymaking departments have embedded intelligence organizations that provide direct and tailored support: the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense oversees multiple IC organizations, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Organization, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The military services each have intelligence organizations that provide tailored support.

Only CIA and the ODNI do not report to a policy department and as such provide the broadest support to decision makers across the national security enterprise.

National Counterintelligence and Security Center