DHS guidance to state and local fusion centers going unused

New report shows 83 percent of fusion and emergency operations centers surveyed not utilizing DHS guidance

The Homeland Security Department’s outreach to dozens of intelligence fusion centers run by state and local agencies apparently suffered a disconnect along the way, according to a new report.

DHS officials said they distributed the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide-502 to the 64 fusion centers to help them coordinate their anti-crime activities with state and local emergency operations centers. DHS’ goal was to encourage more integrated operations between the two types of centers. Currently, many of them have little interaction despite operating in the same regions.


Related story:

Fusion centers hampered by limitations of DHS net, IG says


However, more than 83 percent of the centers reviewed reported they did not receive the DHS guidance or were not using it, Michael Beard, DHS acting assistant inspector general, wrote in the Jan. 9 report.

The blame for the underused federal guidance lies both with DHS and with the state and local officials, the report said.

“Although almost all Fusion Center officials and many of the Emergency Operations Center officials had seen CPG-502, the document was not effectively disseminated to all EOC officials, nor was the importance of its implementation promoted,” Beard wrote.

Out of 17 fusion centers visited, one center had no record of seeing the guidance, and 11 had seen it but were not using it.

Of the 31 emergency operations centers visited, 12 centers had not seen it, and 15 had seen it but were not using it.

Feedback from the state and local directors suggested reasons the guidance might be underutilized. For example, a fusion center director claimed that “products like CPG-502 are released all the time, but there is not enough time to read them to identify how they can be useful. The director also said that CPG-502 is just another document unless resources are available to implement it,” the report said.

The report recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis do more to ensure that the guidance is distributed and utilized effectively.

While FEMA agreed, the Intelligence & Analysis officials did not, saying the recommendation ought to have been directed solely to FEMA. Nonetheless, the intelligence office officials said they would continue to distribute the guidance.

However, the inspector general’s office was persistent in directing the recommendation to both FEMA and the intelligence office, and declared the recommendation unresolved and open.









About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader comments

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 Anonymous

The HSIN is in need of a re-evaluation. Started 10 years and 400 million dollars ago and it is still just a near default SharePoint 2003 instance, Adobe Connect, and outdated Jabber chat. It also features the most unwieldy, annoying, misleading, and downright frustrating user management system ever written by man. It really needs to be re-purposed. RISS is the information sharing network. HSIN is actually a large sized document sharing / meeting /chat system for DHS. Essentially, a cross agency extranet for low sensitivity comms. Integrating it with DHS email would be a start. This is a useful and valid goal. Yet it is always being pushed on users as some kind of wildly futuristic secure advanced information sharing platform. Sticking feathers up your but does not make you a chicken.

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 Bobby

With all the hunting for budget cuts, I'd dare to suggest one huge budget cut with DHS being removed; yeah, the entire beast; it only steps on the feet of other agencies in existence to do what, find more ways to waste our tax dollars? This report suggests a limited effective roll for establishing cooperation with state fusions centers that don't have time or proper funding to utilize intrusive operational changes by a goliath conundrum of a federal agency. Beyond HSIN, it's the same with most of their sectors, it's CYA everywhere. With all the hunting for budget cuts, I'd dare to suggest one huge budget cut with DHS being removed; yeah, the entire beast; it only steps on the feet of other agencies in existence to do what, find more ways to waste our tax dollars? This report suggests a limited effective roll for establishing cooperation with state fusions centers that don't have time or proper funding to utilize intrusive operational changes by a goliath conundrum of a federal agency. Beyond HSIN, it's the same with most of their sectors, it's CYA everywhere. Having the privilege to support our government as a contractor, I left with an experience beyond my wildest disappointment. Sure there excellent agency professionals, but I think they mostly spend their time fixing someone else's mess. Specifically, there are entirely too many government employees who do nothing more than try to cover their butts from being fired for protecting their turf. I have to ask why? In my several years of experience in support, I never saw any government employee get fired, and believe me, there are more reasons to fire them than I've ever seen in the private sector. Has anyone tried to count how many law suits there are with these employees? Hostile environment, sexual harassment, theft...
Back to DHS - HSIN, a home grown information sharing network built with $150,000,000.00 (millions) of taxpayer dollars that competes directly with the private sector off the shelf solutions, and in some cases competing with projects developed by our government that spun out to private sector, and still DHS had to compete with it. Why are they allowed to compete with the private sector?
In defense of HSIN-IA (Intelligence Analysis) they did have the common sense to source a private sector solution and managed to get it up and running in a couple months, and enroll what I remember to be 72 fusion centers in less than a year (Kudos); but not for HISN (of the DHS proper) trying to force the IA office to use their program. It's the same old "Not invented by my office" mentality which is the main cause of redundancy and wasted expenditures in government today!
Bottom line, DHS was born of 19 "Saudi's" with box cutters that created a knee jerk response to more than double this country's expenditures for mitigation of terrorism.

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 John New York

There would be a lot fewer problems like this if DHS stopped trying to reinvent the wheel and let the RISS do what it's funded to do. All the HSIN does is duplicate LEO and the RISSnet centers, and of course waste a lot of money.

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 Ray

QUOTE For example, a fusion center director claimed that “products like CPG-502 are released all the time, but there is not enough time to read them to identify how they can be useful. The director also said that CPG-502 is just another document unless resources are available to implement it,” the report said. UNQUOTE

Sounds like where I work. Mandated taskings from multiple way aboves, but no time or funds to implement them all and still get the real work done - which in our case is supposedly supporting the troops in the field.

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