ODNI Releases 24th Joint Assessment of Section 702 Compliance

ODNI Releases 24th Joint Assessment of Section 702 Compliance


December 21, 2022

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), in consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), today released, in redacted form, the 24th Semiannual Assessment of Compliance with Procedures and Guidelines Issued Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“Joint Assessment”), submitted by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).  This Joint Assessment covers the timeframe of 01 December 2019 through 31 May 2020.  The DNI released this semiannual assessment proactively, in keeping with the Principles of Intelligence Transparency for the Intelligence Community

About the Joint Assessments

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 requires the Attorney General and the DNI to assess compliance with Section 702 procedures over each six-month period and to submit their assessments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and relevant congressional committees, which they do in the Joint Assessments.  A joint team of experts from DOJ and ODNI (the “joint oversight team") conduct these assessments, evaluating how the agencies responsible for implementing Section 702 (National Security Agency [NSA], Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], and National Counterterrorism Center [NCTC]) implement their authority under Section 702.

The Joint Assessments describe the extensive measures the U.S. Government undertakes to:

  • Ensure compliance with FISC-approved targeting, minimization, and query procedures for Section 702;
  • Accurately identify, record, and correct errors;
  • Take responsive actions to remove any erroneously obtained data; and
  • Mitigate the chances that mistakes will recur.

The Joint Assessments provide an overall compliance incident rate that includes all categories of incidents from all of the agencies responsible for implementing Section 702.  However, the overall compliance incident rate is an imperfect proxy insofar as the rate compares the total number of compliance incidents (regardless of their cause) to the average number of tasked facilities (which may be unrelated to the number of certain types of compliance incidents, such as the number of times the acquired data was disseminated or queried improperly).  The assessment, therefore, also provides additional metrics and detailed narratives to assess compliance.

Key Findings of the 24th Joint Assessment 

As detailed in the 24th Joint Assessment, the joint oversight team found that the agencies continued to implement the procedures in a manner that reflected a focused and concerted effort by Intelligence Community (IC) personnel to comply with the requirements of Section 702. Nevertheless, a continued focus is needed to address the underlying causes of the incidents that did occur, especially those incidents relating to improper queries. The joint oversight team assessed compliance trends, including compliance incident rates; evaluated the impact of the types of incidents that occurred; and considered the agencies' preventive and remedial compliance actions.

The overall compliance incident rate considers all identified errors (for targeting, minimization, and querying) of all the agencies implementing Section 702. For this reporting period, the overall compliance incident rate was 0.46 percent, a significant decrease from the immediately preceding period (20.28 percent). However, almost half of this reporting period occurred during the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic. While many reviews were conducted remotely, in the March to May period covered by this report, some onsite reviews at NSA, CIA, NCTC, and FBI were postponed or suspended. During this reporting period, the query error rate for FBI was 0.82 percent, a significant decrease from the prior reporting period (36.59 percent). NSA’s compliance incident rate for targeting decisions was 0.10 percent for this reporting period compared to 0.14 percent for the prior period. The team is not able to determine the extent to which a decrease in the total number of identified compliance incidents reflects a decrease of incidents that occurred during the part of the reporting period that was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic or whether it was due to difficulties discovering and reporting compliance incidents as a result of the team’s inability to consistently conduct onsite reviews during that portion of the reporting period.

Additional Information

ODNI previously released several joint assessments, which are available on IC on the Record and Intel.gov.

24th Joint Assessment (dated December 2021): reporting period 01 December 2019 through 31 May 2020