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A presidential finding is an executive directive issued by the head of the executive branch of a government, similar to the more well-known executive order. The term is mostly used by the United States Government, and in other countries may be identified by different terms. Such findings and other executive decrees are usually protocols which have evolved through the course of government and not typically established by law.
Use and history in the United States
"US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order allowing the CIA and other American agencies to support rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad regime, a US government source told Reuters. Obama reportedly gave the order, known as an intelligence “finding”, earlier this year. The presidential finding also provides for US collaboration with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies. The full extent of the assistance the “finding” allows the CIA to give the Syrian rebels is unclear. It is also unknown precisely when Obama signed the order." The report of Obama’s authorization for covert rebel support comes amidst continued fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels over control of Aleppo, the country’s economic capital. Thousands of people have fled the city, while the government and rebels continue to release conflicting reports on the extent of their control over the city. Asia Times Online correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that the leak's timing was intended to distort the true nature of Washington's covert operations on the ground in Syria.
“This intelligence finding signed by Obama – that’s the code for a secret order – this was signed six months ago. So the fact that Reuters has only been allowed now to report about it proves that there have been high deliberations in Washington: ‘should we let people know about what they already know?’"
"In fact, the Washington Post two weeks ago had already reported about it, and when the CIA wants to leak something in the US, they usually go to the Washington Post. The CIA and Mossad, on the ground [in Syria], side by side working with the Qataris, the Turks, the Saudis and a swarm of jihadis coming from everywhere, but especially from across the border in Iraq,” he argues.
Escobar says the leak was intended to make it look as though Washington was leading the Syrian campaign from behind the scenes, when in fact the US is “leading from the front lines alongside al-Qaeda-style Jihadists, Qatari intelligence, and Turkish logistics.” 
The first specific use of presidential findings was precipitated by the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, in which the findings indicated that certain conditions of that act had be satisfied and, therefore, sales of agricultural commodities could proceed. In their use under this act, such findings were published in the Federal Register and the CFR Title 3 compilations. In contrast, presidential findings in their modern use are not published in these or other governmental publications.
Current use of the presidential finding stems from the so-called Hughes-Ryan amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which prohibited the expenditure of appropriated funds by or on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for intelligence activities "unless and until the President finds that each such operation is important to the national security of the United States and reports, in a timely fashion, a description and scope of such operation to the appropriate committees of Congress" (section 662). This was intended to ensure that clear responsibility for such action was attributable to the President and that Congress was always made aware of such activities. Due to the sensitivity of their content, presidential findings are almost always classified.
The most recent change to exercise of findings occurred in the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991, which introduced increased flexibility in the reporting requirement: findings are to be "reported to the intelligence committees as soon as possible" after being approved "and before the initiation of the covert action authorized by the finding." As such, presidential findings are one of the primary means through which the intelligence committees exercise their oversight of the government's intelligence operations.