Congress has been investigating the NSA's acquisition practices, and the director of national intelligence has been reviewing the agency's ability to manage large programs, current and former intelligence officials said.
As he asks for more money, Alexander is creating a panel of senior managers inside the agency to more closely monitor spending and the performance of its programs, according to a Jan. 2 memo obtained by The Sun.
The panel will permit expenditures only after ensuring that the spending is in line with Alexander's overall agency strategy. It will also review and approve budget requests, according to his memo.
The need for the NSA to avert a looming electricity shortage, which The Sun reported last year, is also putting pressure on the agency's budget. The problem has been known since the late 1990s, but the agency has only focused on it recently as the shortage became imminent. The NSA has assembled an "issue management team" to focus on it, the former senior NSA official said. Such groups are usually assembled for NSA spy operations.
Three main factors are contributing to the expected power shortage: insufficient power available from Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., lack of capacity at substations serving the NSA, and infrastructure in agency buildings that cannot handle the growing demand for electricity.
"They have rising concerns," the former senior NSA official said, noting that the agency has purchased a number of Cray supercomputers and other hardware. "The question is, will they ever be able to plug in those Crays?"
The NSA now uses 65 to 75 megawatt-hours of electricity, and its needs are projected to increase by 10 to 15 megawatt-hours by the end of this fiscal year, with increases of 5 megawatt-hours more each year thereafter, the senior intelligence official said.
The agency has decided not to plug in some high-end equipment and is cycling other critical equipment on and off to avoid overloading the electrical supply. Building temperatures are being lowered to save electricity.
The NSA is also looking at how it can generate more of its own power and plans to relocate some equipment to other parts of the country, where agency demand for electricity can be better managed, current and former intelligence officials said.