ARDA was created in 1998 after the model of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by the Director of Central Intelligence and the Department of Defense, and took responsibility for funding some of DARPA's projects. ARDA evaluates proposals and funds speculative research, particularly in the fields of data mining, video processing, and quantum computing.
There has been speculation that the DTO is continuing research efforts started under the Total Information Awareness program (TIA) in DARPA's Information Awareness Office (IAO). Data-mining activities within the U.S. Department of Defense are controversial and have met with public and congressional disapproval.
Although ARDA's budget is presumably classified as part of the intelligence budget, the New York Times quoted an unnamed former government official saying the agency spent about $100 million a year in 2003. The Associated Press reports that ARDA had a staff of only eight in 2004.
Headquartered at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland, site of the headquarters of the National Security Agency, ARDA/DTO has kept a low profile, quietly funding research of interest to the intelligence community.
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