I just want to recommend Birth of the Federation by Microprose back in the day.
It implemented a system I think they described in the podcast. You created a certain amount of intel points on the map, then on the intelligence screen you invested it into counter espionage and the different factions. You could split the emphasis between intel and sabotage. Then each turn ending dependent upon the empires relative espionage/counter espionage amounts random events would occur. So you never spent the points, it was just an economic investment.
So some events would be ship X damaged/destroyed, shipyards sabotaged, power plants etc. Intel would reveal for 1 turn the location of enemy units, or planets etc. It would also give vague messages about fleets being amassed and production reports on other empires.
I felt it worked very well as it was an economic investment rather than units or coin tosses.