The NICA was created by virtue of Executive Order 235 signed by then President Elpidio Quirino on 7 July 1949 in response to the need for a central entity that would coordinate the intelligence collection activities of the various government instrumentalities. As such, the NICA was responsible for coordinating all government activities relative to national intelligence and preparing national intelligence estimates of local and foreign situations for the formulation of national policies by the President.
In 1954, the findings of a task force of the Government Survey and Reorganization Commission as regards NICA were embodied in Reorganization Plan 54-A and implemented by Executive Order 291. This order was intended to enable the NICA to meet the expanding needs and requirements of national service. In effect, it gave the Agency legal and specific powers and functions to carry out more effectively its mission of providing guidance in decision-making and national policy formulation.
Following the declaration of martial law, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree 51 on 16 November 1972, abolishing NICA and creating the National Intelligence and Security Authority. The NISA had the same mission as the old organization but with broader powers. The Director General, NISA had direct supervision over the NSC Secretariat, functional direction and control over the Civil Intelligence and Security Agency and the intelligence functions of the AFP Intelligence Community. The CISA was responsible primarily for counterintelligence and exercised functional supervision and control over civil security units of all governmental offices. The DG, NISA was also the Chairman of the National Intelligence Board, which was retained as his advisory body on matters pertaining to the integration and coordination of intelligence activities.
The EDSA people power revolution in February 1986 ushered in major changes in the organization. With the issuance of Executive Order 246 on 24 July 1987, the NISA and CISA were abolished to pave the way for the creation of the present National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Under EO 246, the NICA is mandated to be the focal point for the direction, coordination and integration of government activities involving national intelligence, and the preparation of intelligence estimates on local and foreign situations. As such, NICA is not merely "another" departmental intelligence agency since its mission is broader and transcends the exclusive competence of departmental intelligence agencies.