Intell chief wants more information sharing

The Director of National Intelligence wants better integration of intelligence agencies' capabilities through information sharing

The country’s top intelligence official today said more integration of intelligence agencies’ collection and analysis capabilities, in part through enhanced information technology, is a key goal for those agencies.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said increased integration driven by improved information sharing between agencies was an achievable goal for the next five years. Blair also said establishing a cadre of leaders in intelligence agencies that instinctively work together, is doable.

Blair’s office, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), oversees sixteen intelligence agencies and was formed five years ago. The ODNI was created to improve information sharing and provide unified direction for the country’s intelligence agencies.

Intelligence agencies have made much progress on sharing information; however, there are still “gaps and overlaps in the responsibilities of different organizations and the sharing of information,” Blair said during a speech at a conference in Washington on the state of intelligence reform held by the Bipartisan Policy Center.


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Blair said his vision is for all information collected by both foreign-centered and domestic-centered intelligence agencies to be available to analysts who need it and are authorized to handle it. Blair said it would take continued management attention to reach the goal of making “information available to anyone anywhere constrained only by law and policy, not by technology,” he said.

Blair said agencies must have access to raw material across agency lines. The agencies are developing ways to handle data with sophisticated search tools across agency lines, he said.

The failed attempt to detonate explosives aboard a flight en route to Detroit on Christmas Day exposed the remaining work that needs to be done, Blair said. After the attack, the Obama administration tasked the ODNI with accelerating IT enhancements, such as database integration, knowledge discovery and cross-database searches.

“We’ve really only scratched the surface on true information sharing,” Blair said.

Former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell announced plans in January 2009 to put in place policies to make data more searchable and accessible across agencies. That integration is intended to link the intelligence community’s largest foreign intelligence databases, make data more available across agencies and consolidate agencies’ e-mail systems.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.