Friday, March 08, 2024

Billion dollar budget

The Main Estimates for Fiscal Year 2024-25, tabled in parliament on February 29th, reveal that CSE is on track to receive its first official billion-dollar budget: $1,041,683,002 to be precise ($1,061,532,258 if you include $19,849,256 in projected revenue). 

The agency may actually cross that threshold during the current fiscal year, 2023-24. CSE's projected spending in the FY 2023-24 Main Estimates was a mere $965,909,359, but increases in its budget authority during the course of the year boosted that total to $1,039,192,674. That said, it is normal for a portion of the agency's budget authority to go unexpended during the year, so CSE's actual 2023-24 spending could very well fall short of the billion-dollar threshold.

In the FY 2001-02 Main Estimates the agency's projected budget was $100.2 million, or about $170 million in today's money.

In other words, CSE's 2024-25 budget is projected to be TEN times as large as its pre-9/11 budget in nominal terms, and even after adjusting for the effects of inflation it will be SIX times as large.  

Six times!

[Update 10 March 2024: The cyber security (formerly information technology security) side of the agency has grown the most. The cyber security side now accounts for about one-third of CSE's budget, while it was more like 23% in the pre-9/11 days. This means the cyber security budget is about 8.9 times its pre-9/11 size, whereas the SIGINT (and now cyber operations) budget is about 5.3 times its earlier size, after adjusting for inflation.]

Interestingly, CSE's staff is only around 3.5 to 4 times as large as it was in 2001. There are probably multiple reasons for the difference: a higher proportion of the budget likely goes to IT systems and services and to agency facilities; pay and benefits packages have probably improved; and the agency may also be contracting more work out to the private sector.

The trajectory of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's budget makes for an interesting comparison. CSIS has also seen a lot of growth since 9/11, but not on the same scale as CSE. The projected CSIS budget in FY 2001-02 was $170.4 million, or about $290 million in 2024 dollars. CSIS’s projected budget for FY 2024-25 is $702.6 million — about 2.4 times as much as its pre-9/11 budget. 



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