Hundreds of federal agencies hold the obligation of handling such responsibilities as managing America’s soils, protecting its space, and gathering intelligence. Most government agencies are created by Congress through “enabling acts” which define an agency’s authority. United States federal government agencies are highly important, as they help to keep America safe and maintain a civilized economy. Among the many important government agencies, there are several that stand out for their vital role in the safety of the United States. Learn more about these key government agencies with the following information and resources.
The United States Intelligence Community
The United States Intelligence Community includes a total of 16 U.S. government agencies. This cooperative federation works separately and together to conduct foreign relations and to maintain proper national security within the United States. Member organizations include the military intelligence, intelligence agencies, and civilian intelligence. The primary purpose the IC is to collect, analyze, and distribute information in response to questions and requirements of government leaders. This includes the support of national security leaders, such as Members of Congress, military commanders, and policymakers.
- Intelligence: Official website of The United States Intelligence Community, including information on their mission, organizations, and careers.
- Overview of the United States Intelligence Community: Description of the departmental and service components of the U.S. Intelligence Community. [PDF]
- The U.S. Intelligence Community: Information on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the 16 Community Member Agencies.
The Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is an executive agency that reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence. The CIA also has the responsibility of providing national security intelligence assessment to senior U.S. policymakers. They also oversee tactical activities requested by the President of the United States. The main functions of the CIA are to collect data about foreign governments, individuals, or corporations, and exert foreign political influence through tactical divisions, such as the Special Activities Division.
- Central Intelligence Agency: Official website of the Central Intelligence Agency, with information on the CIA, careers and internships, and news.
- CIA FAQ: Frequently asked questions about the Central Intelligence Agency, including information on CIA staff and procedures.
- Discovery Curiosity: Information on how the Central Intelligence Agency functions, and the four teams that make up the CIA.
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency is a cryptologic agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. It is responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign signal intelligence and foreign communications. It also works to protect U.S. government communications, as well as information systems which involve data security and cryptography. The NSA is directed by a vice admiral or lieutenant general and is a key component of the United States Intelligence Community.
- National Security Agency: Official website of the National Security Agency, including information on research, careers, and academia.
- NSA Spying FAQ: Frequently asked questions about the National Security Agency, especially those about NSA spying.
- National Security and the Internet: Article discussing how National Security and computer technology has influenced the Internet.
National Reconnaissance Office
The National Reconnaissance Office is one of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its primary function is to design, build, and operate United States government spy satellites. It also aids in the coordination of satellite imagery from various military and intelligence agencies, and aerial surveillance. The NRO is part of the Department of Defense. Its Director is appointed by the Security of Defense with permission from the Director of National Intelligence.
- National Reconnaissance Office: Official website of the National Reconnaissance Office, with information on history, studies, news, and careers.
- NRO Headquarters: Picture and brief description of the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly.
- National Reconnaissance Office: Web page with patches and information on NRO spy-satellite launches.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is a U.S. federal government agency formally known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). The NGA is also part of the Department of Defense and a key component of the United States Intelligence Community. Its primary function is to collect, analyze, and deliver geospatial intelligence in support of national security. The NGA is credited by the White House with providing crucial information in association with Operation Neptune’s Spear on May 2, 2011, in which the U.S. Military raided the compound housing where Osama Bin Laden was staying in Pakistan.
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Official website of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with information on their mission and careers.
- NGA Survey: Information on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency geodetic survey.
Defense Intelligence Agency
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a main producer of the military intelligence of the U.S. Department of Defense and a member of the Intelligence Community. The DIA employs more than 16,500 U.S. civilian and military employees worldwide. It coordinates the activities of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps intelligence components. The DIA also provides military intelligence to various parties, including defense policymakers, force planners, and warfighters within the U.S. Intelligence Community and Department of Defense.
- Defense Intelligence Agency: Official website of the Defense Intelligence Agency, including history, careers, university, contracting, and public affairs.
- U.S. Department of Defense: Introduction to the Department of Defense, including information on who they work for and how they are organized.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a U.S. agency within the United States Department of Justice. It serves as both an internal intelligence agency and as a federal criminal investigative body. The FBI is responsible for looking into crimes that take place on the Indian Reservations within the United States. They must act under the Seven Major Crimes Act, which was passed in 1885. The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 federal crime categories.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Official website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with information on services, scams, and safety issues.
- If an Agent Knocks: Information on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the rights you have when speaking to an agent.
Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis
The Office of Intelligence and Analysis is a government agency within the United States Department of Homeland Security. Its primary function is to develop Department-wide intelligence services by collecting, analyzing, and combining of intelligence throughout the Department. The I&A is responsible for disseminating intelligence to other members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, as well as to first responders at local and state levels. The I&A is overseen by the Under Security Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis.
- Department of Homeland Security: Official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including information on border security and immigration.
- American Enterprise Institute: Article discussing what Homeland Security spending buys. [PDF]