Napolitano orders review of DHS' intelligence-sharing

Janet Napolitano, the new secretary of the Homeland Security Department, has ordered a review of DHS’ existing programs that share intelligence with state and local authorities. She also instructed DHS officials to contact state and municipal authorities to better integrate the nonfederal officials into DHS programs and processes.

DHS has numerous programs to integrate and coordinate with nonfederal authorities on counterterrorism and emergency response efforts. Many of those programs use information technology to share information.

DHS also leads federal involvement in state and local intelligence fusion centers that serve as a primary node in federal efforts to share counterterrorism information with state and local authorities.

Napolitano asked for evaluations on which DHS activities can best achieve a smooth flow of information between DHS and state and local authorities on a real time basis. She said that should include the perspective of state and local authorities, as well as the private sector, and should evaluate whether DHS’ Intelligence and Analysis office is meeting its information-sharing missions, according to a press statement.

Napolitano also asked DHS’ Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to gather information from state and municipal leadership associations on issues such as critical infrastructure, grants, interoperability, intelligence collection and dissemination and emergency services.


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Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Feb 4, 2009

Homeland defense is not homeland security. DoD - the guys with the planes and tanks - handle homeland defense, as their name suggests, specifically NORTHCOM. That's why DHS is not addressing it. Wrong sandbox. The real question is, who decides what data is sensitive or classified and why? I have seen COTS data and stuff you'd readily find in a phonebook or through a Google search deemed FOUO or "sensitive". 'Better safe than sorry, dont make it easier for the bad guys by making the data too accessible'... brilliant strategy! Guess what geniuses, the 14 yr olds that the bad guys recruit have scraped it all together into a Postgres database and are distributing it via KML to all their jihadi breathren via Google. Wake up Washington! I totally agree with my Fed-up colleague here. I too see it up close as a contractor and I cannot believe that 7 yrs post 9/11 and post GAO, 9/11 Commission reports there still are not comprehensive data exchange programs between feds/states/locals. Fusion centers? Are you thinking Jack Bauer and 24 now? Silly you. Most fusion centers are clipboards and rotary phone banks. Why havent we rolled out a cookie cutter program - Fusion Center in a Box - and just established it already?!? All politics, fiefdoms, maneuvering, risk avoidance, and a$$ covering all the time. I for one am glad to see Napolitano addressing the issue early, I just hope she sticks to it, holds those running the show the last 7 yrs accountable and forces some change in operational leadership - the people who actually are responsible for getting things done - no the politicals - because they're the ones sitting on their hands.

Mon, Feb 2, 2009

The comment above is typical of Federal agencies and is absoluetly obstructioist. I spent three years working with numerous Federal, State and local agencies on this very issue -eventually throwing my hands up in disgust and walking away from the whole mess. The Feds in Washington basically spew the same BS as above, while the agents in field offices just shake their heads at this ridiculous rationale that allows the bureaucratic protectionism that enabled the 9/11 attacks to proceed unchecked. State and locals have always maintained they don't care one bit about "sources and methods", they just want timely, accurate and actionable intelligence. As opposed to the generic threat warnings which are often weeks, sometimes months, old that contain information which has already appeared in mainstream media reports. Until the leaders of these Federal agencies come down off their high horse (or get their heads out of their collective a**es), this country will remain at a heightened risk from a terrorist threat that will simply exploit our continued inability to see beyond self-built fiefdoms.

Fri, Jan 23, 2009

The article does not address the issue of National Defense beyond the DHS mission. What I am referring to is the shared information which may be sourced from military or other agencies which may be involved in protection of our homeland in overseas locatioins. This data should not be shared outside of certain federal channels of security communications to protect our methods and sources. By trying to share with local agencies not all local personnel are subject to security clearance or do they have a need to know some information, I would not support the Secretary Napolitano's proposal.

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