U.S. national security and intelligence play a critical role indetermining the quality of life. Having sustainable and efficientnational security is important in ensuring people live without anyfear. National security elements include safety of the homeland andprotection from threats external to the country1.These are mainly attained through homeland security efforts and hardpower. On additional to this the national security consists of softpower, economic security, and myriad links between people, business,and governments across the world. This study examines the role ofbudgetary allocation to the sustainability and effectiveness of thenational security and intelligence.

Thesis Statement

This study is carried out under the hypothesis that budgetary deficitleads to cutting of spending on intelligence and national security,which impede the ability of U.S. to have a strong intelligence, andsafeguard national security and interest both locally and abroad.

Literature Review

Crowding out of intelligence and national security budgets, coupledwith the loss of the United States’ economic hegemony in the globalmarket, will severely impede the ability of the country to sustainits intelligence and safeguard its interest in both abroad andnational levels2.The projected growth of the entitlement programs will lead to anincrease in the U.S. national deficit and will threaten the U.S.government fiscal sustainability3.The growth of the national debt will lead to the growth of theinterest payments on the debt, and the growth of the entitlementcosts will decrease the proportion of the national budget that isallocated to national security and intelligence. The solutions thatare put in place by the government to prevent escalation of thenational deficit are only holding off this problem, but they do notdeal with the problem of budgetary deficit proactively4.Some examples of the U.S. government policies which prolong thebudgetary deficit include bailout stimulus packages and spending cutson intelligence and security5.

The Intelligence Oversight Committees reached an important agreementin 1992, with the Bush administration, which resulted in theenactment of the Intelligence Organization Act 19926.By amending the National Security Act of 1947, the new lawacknowledges the role of the Central Intelligence Director as thechief adviser of the president and he was given the role of givingthe National Foreign Intelligence budget to the president. TheNational Intelligence Council was mandated by the Act to help theDirector of the Central Intelligence in coming up with intelligenceestimated spending. However, while the Intelligence unit was seekingto increase its role and expand the ability of the Intelligencecommunity beyond the Cold-war period, the National Congress sought toreduce the budget allocation for intelligence. In the early 1990s,the U.S. government had a record high budgetary deficit and level ofnational debt7.Given that the cold war was over, and there was no peer militarycompetitor for the country, the logical area that remained to seekeconomic acceleration and growth is the national security. As aresult, the intelligence and national security budget began todecline in 19908.

In the early years of the Bush administration, the National Congresshad started to focus on reducing the national security andintelligence budgets9.This was contrary to a warning given by David Boren (who was thechairman of the Senate intelligence committee after the election ofBill Clinton as U.S. president) that there should be no hasty cuts inthe national security and intelligence budgets. Even though,President Clinton adhered to the caution of Boren by submitting thebudgetary allocations that called for an increase in nationalsecurity and intelligence spending, the Senate Intelligencecommittees together with the two houses voted to cut this requests by$1.3 billion and $1.1 billion respectively. This resulted in a weakintelligence gathering across the national and abroad and created asecurity gap that was used by terrorist to carry out their plan andimplementing of the September 11, terrorist attack10.

Determining the exact amount that should be spent by the country onintelligence and national security is a daunting task. If the countryspends too little money on intelligence and national security thenational security threat may becoming a reality, which would costAmerican treasure and blood. On the other hand, if the nationalsecurity makes too much spending, the misallocation of the resourceswill increase the national debt that the country will place upon thefuture generations. Even though, Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015that was enacted recently increased the national security andintelligence spending cap for the fiscal years 2016 and 2017, thedebate concerning the sufficiency of this funding level remainsheated. This is because, despite the effort to increase the budgetaryallocations for the national security and intelligence, the fundingremains below the request by President Obama for the financial year2016, and it is below the level that was recommended by the expertfrom the Heritage Foundation11.

Having a below level spending on security and national intelligenceraises a major concern about the ability of the U.S. military tocounter national security threats. The 2016 report about the Strengthof U.S. Military produced by Heritage Foundation, stipulated that theability of U.S. to safeguard its security interests and defend itsself is ‘marginal’ while there is an elevated global level12.This faults various arguments that advocate for cutting of thenational security and intelligence budget. Some of the arguments madefor cutting the spending include: U.S. spends more than all the nextseven countries combined, security spending has grown too much, thenational debt is the biggest threat to the national security, andthere is a large wastage of money by the military13.

However, these arguments are not helpful due to some reasons. First,the U.S. spending on security and intelligence has declined over theyears relative to other countries where in 2011 the country spentmore money than the next 13 countries combined, which reduced to morethan 12 next countries combined, in 2012, more than 10 countriescombined in 2013, more than 8 next countries in 2014, and in 2015 itwas down to more than only seven next countries14.On addition to this, U.S. plays a critical role in preempting thethreats before they arrive. Sustaining this military force that iscapable of preempting the threats around the world is costly. Assuch, despite the growing concern about the military and othernational security and intelligence organs over the country, cuttingbudgetary allocations for national security and intelligence createsa security gap that is worse than the budgetary deficit of thecountry. The total budgetary allocation for the national security andintelligence fall under the discretionary spending. This makes thisallocation highly susceptible to budgetary cuts as the nationaldeficit increase, national debt rises or the economy worsens15.


The study uses data from Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and PeaceResearch Institute (AIPRI). The two data sets are chosen because theyinclude intelligence spending, defense allocation as well ascontingency operations, which is different from U.S. Budget data thatdifferentiate spending on defense from the oversee operationsspending16.

Chart 1.0 belowshows the U.S. spending on national security and intelligence from1988 to 2013.

Chart 1.0 17

The figures used in the chart are adjusted for inflation. In thecalendar year 2013, the spending on security and intelligencedeclined from $671 million to $619 billion. Chart 2.0 below shows theU.S. security and intelligence spending as a percentage of the worldspending.

Chart 2.018

In the 1990s, when the global inflation-adjusted security spendingdropped by 33%, U.S. share of the global security dropped by 6%,mainly because other countries such as Russia reduced their spendingon the military. The 8% fall in U.S. security spending in 2013, leadto 2% fall in global share and the rest of the world spending onsecurity increased by 2%.

Chart 3.0 belowdistinguish between the effect of growth and the allocation of theincome on the share of U.S. global security expenditure.

Chart 3.019

From 1990 to 2000 the growth of U.S. spending roughly kept pace withthe global growth. This means that the effect of U.S. growth on theshare of security spending of the nation (as represented by red bars)offset the effect of the rest of the world (as shown by the purplebars).

Chart 4.0 belowshows the sense of security of U.S. citizens over the years

Chart 4.020

The chart aboveindicates gradual changes of the sense of security by the U.S.citizens over the years. The sense of security is given as apercentage of the citizens who believes in the ability of thegovernment to avert any life threaten even emanating from external orinternal hostilities. It also factors in the extent to which thegeneral public places confidence in the ability of their governmentto protect them21.

Chart 5.0 belowshows U.S. budgetary deficit and surpluses over the years

The chart indicates that the deficit over the years has been veryvolatile. It increased highly in 1940, and 1920s (during World War 1,and World War 2). It has, however, increased over the recent years tohigh spending on social welfare and high demand from the nationalsecurity agencies which have extended their capacity and capabilityto various nations around the world, such as Syria, Libya, Somalia,and Ukraine22.


Chart 1.0 shows that the U.S. spending on intelligence increased from1988 to 2001. After the September 11 attack on the U.S. the budgetaryallocation for the national security and the intelligence increasedsignificantly to hit all-time high in 2008. From the years 2008, thespending dropped gradually to 2013. The rise in the budgetaryallocation was catalyzed by a high reduction in the sense of securityas indicated in the chart 4.0 where the sense of security by theAmericans citizens reduced from 65.2% 1990 to 24.1% in 2001. Theincrease in budgetary allocation for the security between years 2001to 2008 commensurate with the increase in the sense of security bythe American people.

U.S. security and intelligence spending fluctuate as a percentage ofthe global spending. This is mainly because some countries such asRussia, have been forced to cut on their security spending by suchevents as falling in the prices of oil. However, the spending on thenational intelligence has been kept as a secret and thus theintelligence variable in the total spending is given as an estimate.This means that the country may be spending less than estimated byvarious security and military economic analysts. The Governmentbudgetary deficit has increased over the recent years. This relatedto the cutting of the military spending.

Findings andConclusion

There is a high correlation between the budgetary deficit and themilitary allocation as shown in the charts above. When the deficit ishigh, the military spending tends to go down. On addition to this,low spending on security agencies such as homeland security, CIA,FBI, and national military commensurate with a low sense of securityby the U.S. citizens. This means that, despite the fact that most ofthe intelligence spending is kept a secret, the events that evoke asense of insecurity among the population are high during the time oflow security and intelligence budgetary allocations. As such thestudy concluded that cutting the national security and intelligencespending as a result of budgetary deficit and increased the level ofdebt, is detrimental to the national security and places the countryat a high-security risk.


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Caldwell,Dan, and Robert E. Williams Jr.&nbspSeekingsecurity in an insecure world.Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2016.

Caldwell,Dan, and Robert E. Williams Jr.&nbspSeekingsecurity in an insecure world.Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2016.

Chalmers,Malcolm. &quotThe 2015 SDSR in Context: From Boom to Bust–and BackAgain?.&quot&nbspTheRUSI Journal&nbsp161,no. 1 (2016): 4-12.

Clark, RobertM.&nbspIntelligenceanalysis: a target-centric approach.CQ press, 2016.

Drucker,Peter. &quotThe society of organizations.&quot&nbspHarvardbusiness review (1992):95-104.

Gulati,Ranjay, Jan Rivkin, and Ryan Raffaelli.&nbspDoes“What We Do” Make Us “Who We Are”? Organizational Design andIdentity Change at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.2016.

Hook, StevenW.&nbspUSforeign policy: the paradox of world power.Cq Press, 2016.

Nanto, DickK., ed.&nbspEconomicsand national security: Issues and implications for US policy.DIANE Publishing, 2011.

Richelson,Jeffrey T.&nbspTheUS intelligence community.Westview Press, 2015.

Spilimbergo,Mr Antonio, Mr Steven A. Symansky, Mr Carlo Cottarelli, and OlivierJ. Blanchard.&nbspFiscalpolicy for the crisis.International Monetary Fund, 2009.

Stokes, Mark,and Sabrina Tsai. &quotThe United States and Future Policy Optionsin the Taiwan Strait.&quot (2016).

Woodward,Bob.&nbspTheAgenda: Inside the Clinton White House.Simon and Schuster, 2007.


1 Caldwell, Dan, and Robert E. Williams Jr.&nbspSeeking security in an insecure world. Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2016.

2 Nanto, Dick K., ed.&nbspEconomics and national security: Issues and implications for US policy. DIANE Publishing, 2011.

3 Aikins, Stephen K. &quotGlobal financial crisis and government intervention: a case for effective regulatory governance.&quot&nbspInternational Public Management Review&nbsp10, no. 2 (2009): 23-43.

4 Spilimbergo, Mr Antonio, Mr Steven A. Symansky, Mr Carlo Cottarelli, and Olivier J. Blanchard.&nbspFiscal policy for the crisis. International Monetary Fund, 2009.

5 Ibid

6 Drucker, Peter. &quotThe society of organizations.&quot&nbspHarvard business review (1992): 95-104.

7 Ibid

8 Ibid

9 Woodward, Bob.&nbspThe Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House. Simon and Schuster, 2007.

10 Hook, Steven W.&nbspUS foreign policy: the paradox of world power. Cq Press, 2016.

11 Richelson, Jeffrey T.&nbspThe US intelligence community. Westview Press, 2015.

12 Caldwell, Dan, and Robert E. Williams Jr.&nbspSeeking security in an insecure world. Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2016.

13 Gulati, Ranjay, Jan Rivkin, and Ryan Raffaelli.&nbspDoes “What We Do” Make Us “Who We Are”? Organizational Design and Identity Change at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2016.

14 Chalmers, Malcolm. &quotThe 2015 SDSR in Context: From Boom to Bust–and Back Again?.&quot&nbspThe RUSI Journal&nbsp161, no. 1 (2016): 4-12.

15 Ibid

16 Ibid

17 Clark, Robert M.&nbspIntelligence analysis: a target-centric approach. CQ press, 2016.

18 Ibid

19 Clark, Robert M.&nbspIntelligence analysis: a target-centric approach. CQ press, 2016.

20 Ibid

21 Ibid

22 Caldwell, Dan, and Robert E. Williams Jr.&nbspSeeking security in an insecure world. Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2016.