"While parliaments are not directly involved in the tasking of intelligence agencies, they nevertheless play a crucial role in overseeing the process."
Intelligence tasking is the process of setting key intelligence requirements and priorities that define intelligence agency spending and the collection and analysis of intelligence. In democracies, intelligence tasking is the responsibility of the executive branch of government and reflects a state’s foreign, security, and defence policies. The output of the tasking process, commonly referred to as a ‘statement of intelligence priorities’, is usually summarized in a document that is approved by government ministers or the head of the executive.
While parliaments are not directly involved in the tasking of intelligence agencies, this Thematic Brief explores the crucial role they play in overseeing the process.
The Brief is divided into five sections. The first section describes the intelligence tasking process, while the second discusses the ‘intelligence cycle’. The third section outlines the means through which parliaments can oversee the strategic tasking of intelligence agencies. Finally, the fourth and fifth sections examine the barriers to effective parliamentary scrutiny of tasking and possible ways of overcoming these. The Brief concludes with recommendations on how to strengthen the role of parliament in overseeing the tasking of intelligence agencies.