Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research, United States

Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research, United States


The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) draws on intelligence from a range of sources to provide continuous independent analysis of global events to the secretary of state and other diplomatic policymakers. Established in 1946 to aid United States foreign policy and national security goals, the bureau's location within the Department of State means that it has more knowledge of policy ingredients in a given estimative question than the analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the various military intelligence agencies. Accordingly, INR is a member of the National Counterintelligence Policy Board (NCPB), provides briefings to the entire intelligence community, and helps oversee all U.S. government activities overseas.

The primary objective of INR is to serve the Department of State by ensuring that intelligence activities support foreign policy plans. It acts as the focal point in the department for ensuring policy review of sensitive counterintelligence and law enforcement activities, while also analyzing geographical and international boundary issues. In support of the State Department's responsibility for the oversight of all U.S. government activities over-seas, INR coordinates the agency's activities relating to intelligence, security, counterintelligence, investigative, and special operations. It sits on the NCPB and participates in national security community decision-making on visa denial, intelligence sharing, as well as the requirements and evaluation for data collection in all intelligence disciplines.

INR staff draws on all-source intelligence, diplomatic reporting, its own public opinion polling, and interaction with U.S. and foreign scholars to provide early warning and in-depth analysis of events and trends. On an annual basis, INR analysts examine about two million reports to produce more than 6500 written assessments that are read by officials within the State Department, embassy personnel, the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, Congress, and the intelligence community.

The officers and analysts of INR draw upon a vast amount of knowledge. The bureau consists of about 300 employees who are organized into 19 offices that mirror the other divisions of the State Department. The employees, three-fourths of whom are Civil Service and one-fourth of whom come from the Foreign Service, blend both continuity and country-specific knowledge. They utilize thirty-six different languages to integrate new data and insights into their reports. Seventy-one percent of INR officials hold advanced degrees, with over a quarter possessing doctorates. On average, INR analysts and officers have spent six years within the bureau and 13 years studying the country or issue for which they are responsible.

Perhaps the most significant contribution that INR makes to national security comes through its estimative intelligence. The estimative views of INR help compose the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). While most NIC officers come from the CIA, INR officials are part of the quarter of NIC analysts that are drawn from other parts of the government. When few facts are available, INR analysts help fill in the picture to predict what might be or might happen.

The major security lapses of the recent past such as the failure to predict the true strength of Soviet military defenses and the surprise testing by India of a nuclear bomb have led to calls to improve U.S. intelligence capabilities. Reinvigorating the diminished place of the State Department, particularly INR, in collecting and evaluating intelligence has been proposed as one means of bettering national security. Policymakers need estimative intelligence to help them understand the more diffuse and ambiguous threats and opportunities of the post-Cold War world and the specific knowledge offered by INR has historically served as a valuable national security component. Accurate and timely intelligence is the critical first line of defense against danger and INR provides exactly this material.



Ford, Harold P. Estimative Intelligence: The Purposes and Problems of National Intelligence Estimating. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993.


United States Intelligence Community. "Department of State: Bureau of Intelligence and Research. < > (March 23, 2002).


CIA (United States Central Intelligence Agency)
Department of State, United States
Intelligence Community
National Intelligence Estimate
NIC (National Intelligence Council)
Terrorist Organization List, United States

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