Friday, February 28, 2014

CSEC budget up again

According to the 2014-15 Main Estimates, CSEC's 2014-15 budget will be $829.1 million (see page 132), a huge increase over last year's budget. The 2013-14 Main Estimates put the CSEC budget at $422.2 million. That figure was increased to $460.9 million later during the fiscal year, but the total that will actually be spent in 2013-14 is currently estimated to be $443.7 million.

Most of the increase is accounted for by a one-time payment of $300 million towards the cost of constructing CSEC's new headquarters complex.

When that one-time cash is excluded, CSEC's 2014-15 budget totals $529.1 million, which is still significantly higher than the 2013-14 budget.

Almost all of the increase is accounted for by an "increase of $100.8 million for contract payments in 2014–15 which includes maintenance of CSE’s new facility". CSEC will be making annual payments of about this size for the next 35 years as part of the public-private deal through which the complex is to be maintained. The payments will cover regular updating of much of CSEC's computer systems as well as maintenance of the buildings themselves, which explains why the figure is so high.

The new budget level means that, for the first time, CSEC's core budget ($529.1 million) exceeds the budget of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service ($516.2 million), making CSEC Canada's largest intelligence agency in terms of funding. (The overall budget of the Canadian Cryptologic Program, which includes the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group as well as CSEC, is probably closer to $650 million.)

CSEC's 2014-15 personnel budget, on the other hand, is only slightly higher than it was estimated to be in 2013-14 ($228.3 million compared to $225.3 million), which may even represent a slight decrease after accounting for inflation. If the estimate for this year is accurate, this may indicate that CSEC is at the end of its long post-9/11 period of staff growth.

News coverage:

Jim Bronskill, "Eavesdropping agency's budget gets big increase, while watchdogs face cuts," Canadian Press, 27 February 2014.

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