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