240. Letter From President Nixon to Director of Central Intelligence Helms1

Dear Dick:

The need for improving the intelligence product and for increased efficiency in the allocation of resources devoted to the intelligence effort is urgent. In order to achieve these improvements, I will look to you to provide the intelligence community with the strengthened and responsible leadership it needs. I have decided upon some changes that I feel will provide you with the enhanced status and support needed to do the job. They are described in my memorandum to the Intelligence Principals2 which shall be your guide for implementation.

You should give the role of community leadership your primary attention and delegate, as much as is possible, the day-to-day management of the CIA. Four major responsibilities will require your priority attention.

  • —Planning and reviewing all intelligence activities including tactical intelligence and the allocation of all intelligence resources.
  • —Producing national intelligence required by the President and other national consumers.
  • —Chairing and staffing all intelligence community advisory boards or committees.
  • —Reconciling intelligence requirements and priorities with budgetary constraints.

While the formal changes I have directed are limited, I hope and expect additional changes in the functioning and management of the intelligence community. I particularly expect that you will work toward the attainment of three goals:

  • —A more efficient use of resources in the collection of intelligence information.
  • —A more effective assignment of functions within the community.
  • —Improvement in the quality and scope of the substantive product.

In your efforts to attain these goals, you will have my strong support. Should, in your opinion, further changes in the management and organization of the intelligence community be needed, they will receive prompt and sympathetic attention from me.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80–M01048A, Box 15, Folder 5, Ex Dir/Comptroller (Colby) Files, Intelligence Community. Secret.
  2. Document 242.