288. Briefing Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Cline) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Irwin)1


  • NSCIC Consideration of National Intelligence Program Memorandum (NIPM)

It is not clear what action the NSCIC is expected to take on the National Intelligence Program Memorandum (NIPM), which Dick Helms recently submitted to the President through the Office of Management and Budget. Dick provided a copy to you for your information.2 I was consulted by his staff in the course of its preparation.

In any case I believe that it is appropriate for the NSCIC to review the NIPM. We felt from the beginning of the intelligence reorganization that NSCIC should receive concrete intelligence program proposals as well as illuminating case studies like the India–Pakistan crisis report3 as a basis for formulating realistic policy guidance to the intelligence community.

Background of NIPM

The NIPM is the first document of its kind. It incorporates all programs that are considered by Helms to be a part of the “national” intelligence budget proposals for FY–1974.

You will recall that one of the responsibilities given to the DCI by the President’s intelligence directive of 5 November 19714 was the preparation of a “consolidated intelligence program budget,” which was to be presented to the President through OMB. As Helms makes clear in his first NIPM, the program and budget processes of the government have not as yet, at least, been modified in a way that would enable the DCI to prepare a true “consolidated budget.” The Department of Defense, which programs most of the assets for national intelligence activities, has continued to follow procedures which Helms characterizes as “uneven and largely input-oriented and are preoccupied with fiscal levels rather than performance and output.” During the past year Helms and his staff have established closer contact with intelligence program managers in [Page 653] Defense, but have not been able to conduct the reviews and assessments necessary for detailed budget recommendations. One obstacle to consolidated budget review has been the difficulty of dealing with resources which affect national intelligence programs but which are not a part of those programs. For example, the DCI himself has deferred to the Secretary of Defense on proposals for “tactical intelligence” in support of military commanders; yet, as the NIPM shows, the line between “national” and “tactical” is sometimes fuzzy, and resource issues in one area can materially affect those in the other.

In spite of these limitations on the DCI’s program and budget role, the NIPM is a useful and well presented first effort to bring together a descriptive analysis of all national intelligence programs. While it does not contain sufficient information for policy judgments on particular intelligence projects or expenditures, it does provide an excellent overview of proposed allocations of effort, areas where changes are taking place or are desirable, and key issues requiring resolution in the future.


The NIPM is summarized in the first 12 pages. The programs are then analyzed from the standpoint of substantive goals or targets, functions of the intelligence community, and resources management.

[4 paragraphs (18 lines) of source text not declassified]

Helms favors a hold-the-line proposal—that is, maintaining the overall fiscal size of the intelligence program as being adequate to fulfill the national intelligence mission for the next several years, except perhaps for costs resulting from legislative pay increases. The effect of such a holding-the-line policy would result in a forced absorption of over [dollar amount not declassified] annually, due primarily to inflation.

The proposed Defense Intelligence Program is [dollar amount not declassified] below the FY–1973 level, resulting largely from a transfer of certain activities (e.g., mapping, Advanced Range Instrumentation Ships) into non-intelligence programs. Helms points out that some of these activities, such as the instrumentation ships, will continue to be needed for intelligence collection.

The CIA program request is [dollar amount not declassified] the FY–73 program, resulting mainly from expanded clandestine agent and covert action operations, support to narcotics control, R&D, and modest enhancement of production, communications and processing capabilities.

Helms states that the strengthening of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research is an important operating goal in the National Intelligence Program.

When addressing the subject of sources, Helms concludes that a number of technical collection projects, including the near-real-time photographic system scheduled to begin operation in October 1976, are so [Page 654] essential for SAL and other monitoring of Soviet strategic special weapons programs that their capabilities should not be degraded or their dates of availability delayed.

Helms also emphasizes the continued importance of human source collection not only to meet the needs for political, economic, and narcotics intelligence but also to supply information on strategic weapons. He states that “one of the most prolific sources of intelligence is the Foreign Service, which is quite properly not included in the National Intelligence Program.” In stressing the need to avoid using the CIA Clandestine Service to collect information about host governments which should be collected instead by the Foreign Service, Helms suggests that more effort should be given to assigning specific responsibilities to the two services, perhaps at the mission level, to improve efficiency. He expresses the need for qualitative strengthening of the Defense Attaché system, where he finds “no world-wide professionalism comparable to that found in the Foreign Service or in CIA’s Clandestine Service.”

Helms asks for critical review of several Defense programs, including certain aspects [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in which there are new and costly system proposals. He strongly questions the value of an expensive radar system, [2 lines of source text not declassified].

Helms also calls special attention to the costs and growing demands for information processing in the community, including the costs of processing information from advanced collection projects, particularly photographic and SIGINT overhead systems. Helms proposes IRAC studies of this as well as several other intelligence resource areas.

Talking Points

You may wish to say the following when the NIPM is discussed:

The NIPM is a useful document, providing an overview of intelligence program requests for FY–1974 and also identifying issues which in the future should receive coordinated attention both from policy makers and the intelligence community.
We believe this is the kind of document that should be reviewed by NSCIC. It is an indispensable tool for NSCIC to employ in formulating guidance on consumer needs. These needs have to be expressed in the context of the entire intelligence community program and in the light of concrete proposals for specific systems and projects.
We agree generally on the objective of holding the line in the overall cost of the intelligence program, at least until it becomes clear that inflation is driving the program below the threshold of minimum assurance of national security. For the next few years, in the face of tight budgets and inflation, we will need to give greater attention to cross-program adjustments, such as between collection and production and between various targets.
We agree that intelligence objectives need to be better articulated. We believe that improved statements of objectives should be based on more thorough assessment of the existing and potential usefulness of individual intelligence systems as well as on changes in substantive emphasis at the decision-making levels.
The NIPM calls attention to manpower costs, which comprise about half of the budget devoted to the US intelligence effort. Substantial manpower cuts have been made over the last ten years. We must continue our efforts to make additional cuts and especially to keep overseas presence to a minimum essential level.
Beyond the question of manpower, we agree on the need for more intensive study of other key resource issues outlined by Dick Helms, such as the levels of effort to be devoted to various kinds of satellite surveillance. State would welcome the chance to participate in preparing detailed analytical studies of this kind.
We note that decisions about national reconnaissance programs of great significance in relation to the feasibility of international negotiations and agreements (SAL I, e.g.) are made by an Executive Committee (EXCOM) without any representation from the State Department.5 State Department views on priorities to be attached to various elements of the reconnaissance program ought to be useful in EXCOM deliberations and State believes it should be asked to provide a representative for this group.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, NSCIC Documents, 1972–1974. Top Secret; Ruff; Zarf; Umbra; Handle via [codewords not declassified] Byeman Talent Keyhole Comint Channels Jointly. Drafted by Cline and Richard Curl (INR/DDC).
  2. Helms forwarded a copy to Irwin on October 18. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 286 and footnote 2 thereto.
  4. Document 242.
  5. SAL is in reference to the Strategic Arms Limitation talks.