One aspect of the latest reveal of the US budget for intelligence agencies that has been reported in the media is the alleged budget for a program to break encryption. From an Ars Technica article on the subject:

The federal government is pouring almost $11 billion per year into a 35,000-employee program dedicated to "groundbreaking" methods to decode encrypted messages such as e-mails

I've seen the same statement repeated in the german media. The reason I'm skeptical is that this budget is around the same size as the reported budget for the CIA and NSA each. This seems to be an extraordinary amount for a single program, and I'm wondering if it is a misinterpretation of the leaked documents.

This program is referred to as the "Consolidated Cryptologic Program" in the articles, what is the evidence that this is a program to crack encryption? And is the claim in the article that all of the $11 billion are spend on cracking encryption supported by the leaked documents?

  • 2
    This is most likely due to people not understanding either what NSA does, or what cryptography entails.
    – user5341
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


No, it's a huge overstatement.

There is a Consolidated Cryptologic Program, which receives 21% of $52.5 billion "black" budget (source). However, this is an umbrella program, which includes whole NSA budget. Only 4% (circa $440 mln) of CCP budget is allocated to Research & Technology (source). It's not disclosed how big a part of these $440 mln is allocated to cryptoanalisis research.

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