Frequently Asked Questions
National Security Branch Frequently Asked Questions
What is the National Security Branch?
The National Security Branch (NSB) consists of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division (CTD), Counterintelligence Division (CD), Directorate of Intelligence (DI), and the new Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) and combines the missions, capabilities, and resources of each.
The NSB oversees the national security operations of these four components and is also accountable for the national security functions carried out by other FBI divisions.
Why did the FBI create the NSB?
The NSB was established by authority of a June 28, 2005, memorandum from the President directing the Attorney General to implement the WMD Commission’s recommendation for the FBI to establish a “National Security Service.”
The President instructed the Attorney General to combine the missions, capabilities, and resources of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and intelligence elements of the FBI under the leadership of a senior FBI official.
When was the NSB established?
The Attorney General implemented the President’s directive by standing up a new organization—the National Security Branch—on September 12, 2005 . On June 5, 2006, the FBI received notification that Congress had officially approved the new structure.
Who heads the NSB?
The NSB operates under the authority of an Executive Assistant Director (EAD) for the NSB. The EAD-NSB replaces the former positions of EAD for Intelligence and EAD for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence and has the combined authority of these two positions.
To whom does the head of the NSB report?
The EAD-NSB reports to the FBI Deputy Director and exercises the Director’s authorities over the activities of the NSB’s CTD, CD, DI, and WMDD.
How does the NSB fit into the structure of the FBI?
The FBI’s national security and intelligence missions are now unified under the authority of the EAD-NSB who reports to the Deputy Director.
The EAD-NSB has full operational and management authority over all FBI Headquarters and field national security programs, including the authority to initiate, terminate, or reallocate any of the investigations or other activities within the NSB.
The EAD-NSB has direct authority over the NSB budget, including the National Intelligence Program (NIP) resources.
The EAD-NSB is also responsible for the continued development of a specialized national security workforce and is the lead FBI official responsible for coordination and liaison with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Intelligence Community (IC). (The DNI is the head of the U.S. Intelligence Community and the principal advisor to the President, National Security Council, and Homeland Security Council on intelligence matters.)
How is the NSB different from the Directorate of Intelligence?
The Directorate of Intelligence (DI) is a component of the National Security Branch. It is the FBI's dedicated national intelligence workforce with clear authority and responsibility for all FBI intelligence functions, including information sharing. The DI carries out its mission through embedded intelligence elements at FBI Headquarters and in each field division. Together, the DI, Counterintelligence Division, Counterterrorism Division, Terrorist Screening Center, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate comprise the National Security Branch.
How does the creation of the NSB affect the Directorate of Intelligence, the Counterterrorism Division, and the Counterintelligence Division?
CTD and CD retain both their basic structure and their responsibility for management of investigative operations related to counterterrorism and counterintelligence, intelligence collection related to national security, and evidence exploitation.
The DI also retains its basic structure, including its embedded intelligence elements in each field division and in the CTD, CD, Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and Cyber Division (CyD) at FBI Headquarters. The DI will continue to supervise FBI-wide intelligence activities, including field intelligence operations, from collection to dissemination.
While CTD, CD, and DI will currently retain their existing structure, the FBI will look for opportunities to incorporate structural changes across the NSB that will create efficiencies and promote integration.
What role does the FBI play in the Intelligence Community?
One important facet of the NSB’s mission is to provide useful and timely information and analysis to the intelligence and law enforcement communities. The NSB has enhanced the FBI’s ability to coordinate our national intelligence activities with the rest of the IC under the leadership of the DNI.
The FBI has moved beyond case-focused intelligence to building a Bureau-wide intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination program that fuses intelligence from across the Bureau. The FBI now uses intelligence not just to pursue investigations but to have greater awareness of national security threats and the total threat environment. We look at information for its predictive value and share that information—save that which we are legally proscribed from releasing—with our partners in law enforcement and the Intelligence Community. At the same time, we always protect sources, methods, and other operationally sensitive details.
The FBI recognizes that the intelligence we collect has greater value when combined with information from our partners. We work side by side with personnel from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Defense (DOD), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the new National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and with state, local, and tribal partners in task forces around the country. The FBI shares intelligence gathered at home and overseas to provide a coordinated strategic and tactical response to threats.
Is the entire FBI part of the Intelligence Community?
Only those FBI programs funded under the National Intelligence Program, or NIP, are considered part of the Intelligence Community.
What is the NIP?
The NIP formerly the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) is the funding stream for national intelligence activities. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) redesignated the NFIP as the NIP to illustrate the DNI’s responsibility for foreign and domestic intelligence.
What authority does the DNI have over the FBI?
The DNI has budget authority over the FBI's national intelligence activities, both at headquarters and in the field, through the NIP budget and through the EAD-NSB’s authority over the whole of the intelligence, domestic terrorism, counterintelligence, and weapons of mass destruction programs. The NSB Executive Staff mission managers collaborate routinely with the DNI and staff members across the IC in areas such as budget, performance metrics, training, human resources, communications, policy and legal, and information technology.
The DNI also has specified authority to concur in the appointment of the FBI EAD-NSB. The Director of the FBI forwards his recommendation to the Attorney General for the appointment of the EAD-NSB. The Attorney General then seeks the concurrence of the DNI before making the appointment, consistent with IRTPA.
How is the NSB funded?
The DNI develops, determines, and presents to the President for approval the annual consolidated NIP budget, which includes the FBI’s National Security Program budget. In addition to the information to which the DNI has access as “national intelligence” and “intelligence related to the national security,” the FBI Director must provide the DNI other requested information needed to determine the NIP budget. The DNI also is authorized to provide guidance for developing the annual budget for intelligence elements not part of the NIP.
The EAD-NSB is responsible for building and submitting the FBI national security budget request. The EAD-NSB has budget oversight authority over the FBI's Intelligence and Counterterrorism/Counterintelligence Decision Units, which includes funding for all FBI national security programs and the FBI’s NIP resources.
All efforts to create and manage the FBI intelligence budget are directed at ensuring the DNI is able to exercise oversight for all national intelligence spending. The FBI’s intelligence requirements and collection management process is fully aligned with the DNI’s NIP.
What is the NIPF?
The National Intelligence Priorities Framework is the DNI’s guidance to the IC on the national intelligence priorities approved by the President. The NIPF guides prioritization for the operation, planning, and programming of U.S. intelligence analysis and collection. The NIPF is updated semiannually.
The FBI and other members of the IC support the DNI in establishing national intelligence priorities within the NIPF. The FBI has adopted the NIPF as a method of prioritizing intelligence collection and production for the FBI. As such, the FBI is expected to collect against NIPF requirements and to integrate efforts with the DNI. All FBI intelligence requirements for collection are and must be based on and traceable to the NIPF.
What has the NSB accomplished since it was established?
The NSB’s initiatives in budget and performance measures, human resources, information technology, legal and policy, and training are all aimed at integrating intelligence and operations to protect national security.
- Budget and Performance Measures: The NSB is developing procedures for formulating and executing the FBI’s budget for programs and projects funded by the NIP. The NSB’s accomplishments in budget and metrics include:
- 2007 Performance Plan: Completed a 2007 performance plan that ties spending on NIP-funded FBI programs to performance measures based on the DNI’s National Intelligence Strategy.
- Money-Saving Opportunities: Coordinated within the NSB and other FBI divisions to consolidate various contracts and vendor purchases to promote cost-saving measures.
Human Resources: The NSB is developing and supporting a specialized, integrated FBI intelligence workforce consisting of special agents (SAs), intelligence analysts (IAs), language analysts (LAs), and surveillance specialists with deep investigative and intelligence expertise in national security and criminal tools. Among the human resource initiatives the NSB is undertaking are:
- Defining core national security competencies —a cluster of interrelated knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform a specific job—and revising recruiting practices to target those competencies.
- Determining the critical skills hiring goals for SAs for CTD, CD, DI, and WMDD and coordinating with the FBI’s Administrative Services Division (ASD) to develop SA hiring goals and recruitment strategies.
- Implementing a national security career path for IAs and SAs, allowing analysts and agents to develop specialized skills and experience in priority areas.
- Seeking authority to create 24 new Senior Intelligence Officer positions that are critical to the FBI’s intelligence mission. Collaborating with the ODNI on aligning the FBI’s Human Capital plan and priorities with the ODNI’s Strategic Human Capital Plan; crafting a common compensation structure for the IC workforce; and participating in and establishing Bureau policy for ODNI Joint Intelligence Community Duty Assignments.
Information Technology: The NSB is working with the FBI’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to implement new tools—and upgrade existing ones—for analysts and agents to more easily access, analyze, and share information throughout the FBI and with our Intelligence Community and law enforcement partners. Initiatives include:
- Alert Capability in Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW): Investigative Data Warehouse is a centralized, web-enabled repository for relevant intelligence and investigative data that allows users to query the information utilizing advanced software tools. At the NSB’s request, the FBI’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has developed an “alert capability” that allows users of IDW to create up to 10 queries of the system and be automatically notified when a new document is uploaded to the database that meets their search criteria.
- Guardian 2.0: The Guardian system allows users to enter, assign, and manage terrorism threats and suspicious activities in a paperless environment, and it allows all field offices and Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) members to view information simultaneously. Version 2.0 of the Guardian system is nearing completion and contains significant improvements.
- E-Guardian: The NSB is developing an automated method, e-Guardian, for sharing certain unclassified information from Guardian’s Terrorism Threat System with state and local law enforcement officers via Law Enforcement Online (LEO). Once sharing agreements are signed, police chiefs and sheriffs will be able to query local terrorism threats and also submit terrorism information to the FBI through e-Guardian.
Legal and Policy Initiative Highlights: The NSB is coordinating with the FBI’s Office of General Counsel to address policy and legal issues for intelligence and information sharing both within and outside the FBI. Collaborating with our partners in the Justice Department and the Intelligence Community, the NSB is ensuring FBI representation and participation in IC working groups and policy-related activities related to information sharing, classification, confidential human sources, and information technology. The NSB is also working with the DNI to create standard policies and procedures for the IC. The NSB’s policy and legal accomplishments include the following:
- Developed the FBI Intelligence Policy Manual, which includes dissemination policy, classification, declassification, dissemination caveats, sanitization, and tearlines.
- Developed a revised FBI Classification Guide, which will allow analysts and agents to appropriately classify information the FBI develops, detailing specific categories that guide users in classifying documents.
- Provided for FBI implementation of new IC information sharing policies.
- Coordinated the development of Justice Department policy for the following three information sharing initiatives: State and Local Fusion Center Guidance: establishes guidelines for the fusion centers that are appearing across the United States to standardize the fusion center infrastructure and facilitate information sharing.
- The Regional Data Exchange Program: enables the FBI to join participating federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies in regional information sharing systems under standard technical procedures and policy agreements.
- Law Enforcement National Data Exchange: will provide a nationwide capability to exchange data derived from incident and event reports and enable rapid coordination among all strata of law enforcement.
Training Initiative Highlights: Training and orientation materials provided to our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners enable us to educate these partners on what the FBI is doing, to enhance our information sharing efforts, and to build trust among all parties. In addition, through basic and advanced training, the Intelligence Career Service (ICS) Cohort Program, and professional development opportunities, the FBI is committed to providing its personnel with the best training available in the Intelligence Community.
- Orientation Training: Orientation training is designed to inform those not working regularly on national security matters about the FBI’s national security mission. This includes FBI, other Justice Department and federal agencies, as well as state, local, and tribal agencies.
- The orientation training that has been developed includes: a package of training materials about the NSB for outreach to state and local law enforcement; a 15-minute video about the NSB and how it relates to local law enforcement, designed to be shown at police department roll calls; a 12-minute video about the Terrorist Screening Center instructing state and local police officers how to proceed if they encounter someone who is identified in a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check as a suspected terrorist; and a two-part multimedia series on national and international perspectives on suicide bombing trends.
- Basic Training: Basic training will be provided to all NSB employees who are assigned to CTD, CD, DI, and WMDD, as well as those with Field Intelligence Group (FIG) responsibilities, to ensure they have a baseline understanding of all of the FBI’s national security missions. NSB employees will complete four core courses online: National Security Branch Introduction; Introduction to Counterintelligence; International Terrorism; and Domestic Terrorism.
- In addition, all special agents participate in an 18-week basic training course of instruction at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This program introduces agents to the full range of intelligence and law enforcement tools and emphasizes how intelligence and criminal investigative techniques are used in tandem as part of the FBI’s strategic mission. We also emphasize the development of an intelligence base through the operation of human sources and liaison with other agencies.
- Advanced Training: Advanced training continues to be developed for special agents and intelligence analysts specializing in national security. This will result in a course catalog of specialized national security training broken down into core and elective instruction tailored to each employee’s role and responsibilities. Once implemented, it is anticipated that employees will be expected to complete training obligations as a condition of promotion.
- Cohort Training: The ICS Cohort Program, launched in October 2005, is a training program designed for new intelligence analysts, language analysts, and surveillance specialists. For the first time at the FBI, these ICS members enter on duty together as a Cohort class for five weeks of training at the FBI Academy. The Cohort Program equips ICS members with basic intelligence tradecraft, an appreciation for how each role contributes to the intelligence cycle, and a nationwide network from which to draw as they embark on their FBI careers. In addition, new IAs and SAs participate together in joint training exercises as part of the Cohort Program.
- Professional Development Opportunities: The FBI has also developed multiple joint-training opportunities with the IC and higher-education institutions. The training partnerships and activities we are pursuing with other government agencies, academia, and the private sector include: Joint Military Intelligence College (JMIC); Kellogg School of Management; Intelligence Community Assignment Program (ICAP); CIA University; and Joint Intelligence Virtual University (JIVU).
- Intelligence Officer Certification: With the implementation of the FBI Intelligence Officer Certification (FIOC) Program, some FBI intelligence professionals will be eligible to become Certified FBI Intelligence Officers. A Certified FBI Intelligence Officer is a recognized organizational authority whose demonstrated in-depth knowledge and understanding of the national threat environment and intelligence issues drives organizational and strategic decision-making through the effective integration of FBI operational and intelligence capabilities. Intelligence Officer Certification is a credential that recognizes achievement in and long-term commitment to the intelligence profession as demonstrated through experience, education, and training.
- All special agents, intelligence analysts, language analysts, and surveillance specialists are eligible to participate in certification. Not all personnel occupying these positions are required to obtain certification. However, certification will eventually be required for certain management positions, including DI executive management, all Assistant Special Agents in Charge, and certain Section Chiefs serving in an operational or intelligence capacity.