Difference Between CIA and FBI

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 17, 2023


Difference Between CIA and FBI

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The U.S. Intelligence Community comprises the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA lacks a role in law enforcement, which is the main distinction between the two organizations. The CIA's mission is to gather and analyze data that is crucial for the formulation of American policy on matters that have an impact on national security. The CIA gathers information from abroad, compiles a thorough study of all available evidence, carries out the president's orders, and protects national security secrets. On the other hand, the FBI’s mandate is to defend the United States against terrorist attacks and threats from foreign intelligence agencies, uphold and enforce American criminal law, and offer guidance and criminal justice services to local as well as international partners and agencies.


While the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) mostly operates within the United States to both acquire intelligence and fight federal crimes, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) primarily operates outside the country to gather intelligence through a network of spies. However, the CIA does not engage in law enforcement. Instead, it gathers and evaluates data that is essential to the development of American policy, particularly in areas that have an impact on the country’s security. Only data on foreign nations and their individuals are gathered by the CIA. It is forbidden to gather information about "U.S. Persons," which includes U.S. citizens, resident aliens, legal immigrants, and U.S. corporations, whether they may be. This is in contrast to the FBI. You must be a US citizen who is at least 18 years old and a high school graduate to join the CIA. For non-clerical roles such as intelligence analyst and overseas officer, a college degree is necessary. It is also advantageous to be bilingual. You must be a citizen of the United States, have a four-year college degree, be unmarried, and pass a background check to join the FBI. A polygraph test and a physical fitness test may also be administered. The FBI academy provides 21 weeks of training to selected applicants.

Difference Between CIA and FBI in Tabular Form

Stands ForCentral Intelligence AgencyFederal Bureau of Investigation
IntroductionThe gathering, processing, and analysis of global national security information is the responsibility of the Central Intelligence Agency, a civilian foreign intelligence organization of the US federal government.The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal criminal investigative organization and an internal agency (counter-intelligence) that reports to the United States Department of Justice.
MottoYou shall know the truth, and it shall set you free.Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity
EstablishmentSeptember 18, 1947July 26, 1908
PrioritiesThe CIA does not perform law enforcement duties, in contrast to the FBI (a domestic security service). It focuses mostly on acquiring intelligence abroad and only a little amount of intelligence domestically. Only the CIA is permitted to conduct clandestine operations.Protect the United States from terrorist attacks, foreign espionage, intelligence activities, cyber-attacks, and other high-tech crimes; protect the United States from terrorist attacks; combat corruption in government at all levels.
Agency ExecutivesGina Haspel, DirectorChristopher A. Wray, Director; David Bowdich, Deputy Director; E.W Priestap, Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-intelligence Division.
HeadquartersLangley, VirginiaJ. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D.C

What is the CIA?

The Central Intelligence Agency, also referred to colloquially as the Agency and historically as the company, is the federal government of the United States civilian foreign intelligence service. Its official duties include gathering, processing, and analyzing information related to national security from all over the world, primarily using human intelligence (HUMINT), as well as carrying out covert operations through its Directorate of Operations. The CIA, which is a key component of the US intelligence community, reports to the director of national intelligence and focuses on gathering intelligence for the US president and cabinet. President Harry S. Truman established the Central Intelligence Group on January 22, 1946, under the director of a Director of Central Intelligence, following the dissolution of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) at the end of World War II. The Central Intelligence Agency was established following the National Security Act of 1947, which changed the Central Intelligence Group into the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA does not have law enforcement and its enforcement function is primarily focused on gathering intelligence abroad, with some domestic intelligence being collected as well, in contrast to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is a domestic security service. To coordinate actions across the IC, the CIA acts as the national manager for HUMINT. It also conducts covert actions as ordered by the President. Through its paramilitary activities divisions, including the Special Activities Centre, it influences foreign political affairs. Many nations’ intelligence agencies, including Germany’s BND, were founded with the help of the CIA. It has additionally offered technical assistance, planning, coordination, training in torture, and support to several international political organizations and countries. It participated in several regime shifts, terrorist attacks, and deliberate killings of foreign leaders. The CIA has been managed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) since 2004. The CIA has expanded in size in response to the September 11 attacks, despite having some of its authority given to the DNI.


The CIA was established to create a hub for intelligence and analysis related to foreign policy. Today, its main goals are to conduct clandestine operations and gather, examine, assess, and disseminate foreign intelligence.

The CIA has five goals listed in its budget:

  • Counterterrorism
  • Nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Indications and warnings for senior policymakers
  • Counterintelligence
  • Cyber Intelligence

Executive Office

The Executive Office assists the U.S. military by sharing information that it collects, receiving information from military intelligence agencies, and participating in field operations. The daily operations of the CIA are under the direction of the Associate Deputy Director. There is a director for each division of the organization. The Unified Combatant Commands produce and provide regional/operational intelligence to the CIA, which in turn consumes the national intelligence produced by the CIA. The connection between the CIA and the UCC is managed by the Office of Military Affairs (OMA), which reports to the Associate Deputy Director.


The Office of Training and Education, the CIA’s initial training center, was founded in 1950. The CIA’s training budget was drastically reduced after the Cold War ended, which had a bad impact on personnel retention. George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, established CIA University in 2002 in response. Each year, CIA University offers 200 to 300 courses, teaching new employees, seasoned intelligence agents, and CIA support workers. The building collaborates with the National Intelligence University and houses the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, which is a division of the university dedicated to the Directorate of Analysis. The Warrenton Training Centre, which is close to Warrenton, Virginia, serves as the Office of Communications' main training center. Since at least 1955, the CIA has made use of the facility, which was built in 1951.

What is the FBI?

The primary federal law enforcement organization in the United States, as well as its domestic intelligence and security service, is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI is a part of the American intelligence community and operates under the Department of Justice's purview. It is accountable to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. The FBI is one of the top counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigation organizations in the United States, and it has jurisdiction over more than 200 different types of federal crimes. Even though the FBI performs numerous responsibilities that are one-of-a-kind, its efforts to promote national security are similar to those of the British M15 and NCA, the New Zealand GCSB, and the Russian FSB. The FBI is primarily a domestic agency, maintaining 56 field offices in major cities across the United States and more than 400 resident agencies in smaller cities and areas across the country, in contrast to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which lacks law enforcement authority and is focused on gathering intelligence abroad. A senior FBI officer also acts as the director of National Intelligence's representative at an FBI field office.

The FBI is in charge of federal law enforcement on roughly 200 Indian reservations, and there are 565 American Indian Tribes that have received federal recognition. This federal jurisdiction is concurrently shared with the Office of Justice Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


As the Bureau of Investigation, sometimes known as the BOI or BI for short, the FBI was founded in 1908. In 1935, the organization’s name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., serves as the FBI’s main office. The top 10 criminals, according to the FBI, are listed.

The National Bureau of Criminal Identification was established in 1896 and provides agencies throughout the nation with data to identify known offenders. Following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, there was a feeling that anarchists were a threat to the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt wanted more authority to monitor anarchists even though the Departments of Justice and Labor had been maintaining records on them for years. Since 1887, the Justice Department had been charged with overseeing interstate commerce, even though it lacked the personnel to do so. Before the Oregon land fraud incident at the turn of the 20th century, it had made little attempt to address its staffing problem.

Creation of FBI

The BOI was joined with the Beaurea of Prohibition the next year, 1933, and given the new name Division of Investigation (DOI); in 1935, it was given independence inside the Department of Justice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was formally renamed from the Division of Investigation the same year.

Organizational Structure

The FBI is divided into functional divisions, along with the Office of the Director, which houses the majority of the administrative offices. Each branch is run by an executive assistant to the director. Each office and division within each branch is then led by an assistant director. Sub-branches within the various divisions are managed by deputy assistant directors. There are different sections led by section chiefs within these sub-branches. Comparable in rank to special agents in charge are section chiefs. Two branches report to the associate director, while two branches report to the deputy director.

Main Difference Between CIA and FBI in Points

  • The main distinction between the FBI and CIA who they view as security threat. While the latter is more concerned with risks from abroad, the former largely concentrates on home threats.
  • The CIA had a budget of $19 billion in 2016 compared to the FBI’s $8.8 billion. Unlike the FBI, the organization is also authorized for clandestine operations.
  • The scale of the enormous global network run by the CIA is unknown. The FBI, on the other hand, employs about 35,000 people and functions more as a law enforcement agency.
  • If you were accused of crimes against the nation, you could anticipate that the FBI would pay a visit to your home. The CIA's main concerns are foreign threats, drug trafficking, nuclear nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence.
  • One of the CIA’s main duties is gathering foreign intelligence and conducting covert operations. On the other hand, the FBI defends the nation from terrorist assaults, international espionage, and foreign information gathering. Obliterate all governmental corruption while simultaneously protecting the US from foreign cyberattacks.
  • The CIA is an independent organization that is a member of the US Department of Justice, whereas the FBI is entrusted with protecting Federal law.


You’ve probably heard of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) if you’ve ever followed the news during a significant international crisis or a threat to American territory. The security of the United States is safeguarded by both governmental agencies. The two organizations have the same objectives in terms of preserving America and its interests, even though they are completely different from one another. CIA deals with The gathering, processing, and analysis of global national security information is the responsibility of the Central Intelligence Agency, a civilian foreign intelligence organization of the US federal government. Whereas, the FBI deals with criminal investigation that reports to the United States Department of Justice.


  • https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/difference-between-the-fbi-and-cia-1536302680-1
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Bureau_of_Investigation
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Intelligence_Agency



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"Difference Between CIA and FBI." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 09 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cia-and-fbi>.

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