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The Congress of the United States was created by Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution, adopted by the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787, providing that "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.''
Congressional committees in the areas of appropriations, armed services, foreign affairs, homeland security and intelligence are the main entities that oversee the national security community and intelligence community (IC). Congressional agencies -- the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, the Government Accountability Office and the Library of Congress -- further provide support to the Congress.
Within Congress, principal oversight responsibility rests with the two intelligence committees. By law, the president must ensure that these two committees are kept "fully and currently" informed of the activities of the IC, including any "significant anticipated intelligence activities." Notice is also required to be provided to both committees of all covert action programs approved by the president as well as all "significant intelligence failures."
* The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI): Membership on the SSCI has ranged from 13 to 17, with the majority party in Congress having one more member than the minority. Members of the SSCI serve eight-year terms. In addition to its role in annually authorizing appropriations for intelligence activities, the SSCI carries out oversight investigations and inquiries as required. It also handles presidential nominations referred to the Senate for the positions of the director of national intelligence (DNI), principle deputy DNI, CIA director and CIA inspector general, and reviews treaties referred to the Senate for ratification as necessary to determine the ability of the IC to verify the provisions of the treaty under consideration.
* The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI): The membership of the HPSCI is currently 19 members and is proportional to the partisan makeup of the entire House. Members may be appointed for terms up to eight years. Like its Senate counterpart, the HPSCI conducts oversight investigations and inquiries in addition to processing the annual authorization of appropriations for intelligence.
* Other committees: In addition to the intelligence committees, other congressional committees occasionally become involved in oversight matters by virtue of their overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities. Both the Senate and House armed services committees, for example, exercise concurrent jurisdiction over Department of Defense intelligence activities; and both judiciary committees exercise concurrent jurisdiction over FBI intelligence activities.
In addition to the various committees, major domestic elements of the Congress involved in top-secret work include:
* Architect of the Capitol
* Library of Congress
* Office of the Sergeant at Arms
* U.S. Capitol Police
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Top Secret Work
Number of Work Locations
- Management consulting and administration
- Disaster preparedness
- Facilities and Infrastructure
- Information technology
- Intelligence analysis
- Law enforcement
- Staffing and personnel
- Building and personal security
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