Obama signs first intelligence authorization bill in five years

President Obama Thursday signed the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill into law, the first time such a bill has been enacted in five years.

Although the bill technically applies to the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, lawmakers and intelligence officials say it includes many provisions that will have an impact for years to come.

For example, the bill includes a provision aimed at increasing the number of lawmakers who can be briefed about covert spy activities. To that end, it requires the administration to give all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees at least a general description of secret operations.

It also creates an inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community and requires intelligence agency chiefs to certify annually that they have kept Congress fully and currently informed of significant intelligence activities.

"In the absence of authorization bills, Congress has been unable to change laws and alter important policies," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Thursday.

"The enactment of [the bill] puts the intelligence committees back in the business of authorizing," Reyes added. "It represents substantial gains for congressional oversight of national security. More importantly, this law gives the [intelligence] community the tools it needs to keep America safe."

The bill also includes a provision that requires Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Government Accountability Office to come up with a directive that will allow government auditors to inspect intelligence operations.

Speaking at an intelligence conference Wednesday, Clapper acknowledged that GAO can be helpful, especially in the area of overhauling the process for giving security-clearances to intelligence personnel and contractors. But he said he is concerned about GAO getting into "the core essence" of intelligence, such as by evaluating sources and methods and critiquing national intelligence estimates.

Clapper said giving GAO auditors who have subject matter expertise access to certain activities would be appropriate.

But he also bemoaned that the congressional intelligence committees have become partisan. "I think it's fair to say that overtime the two intelligence committees have got caught up somewhat in the partisanship that prevails today," he said.

Clapper said he would do what he can to build a positive relationship with the committees.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.