McNamara: Give info-sharing office more authority

The outgoing leader of the government office created to increase the sharing of terrorism-related information among federal, state and local officials thinks the office should have more authority.

Ambassador Thomas McNamara, whose last day as the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) was July 31, said on July 30 that the office should have budgetary authority and the ability to direct policy changes.

“The more authority you have, the more [agencies] pay attention,” McNamara told reporters after a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee.

The PM-ISE is working to remove policy and technology obstacles to interagency information sharing that experts have said were rampant before the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Subcommittee members praised McNamara during the hearing for the work he has done since he took over as PM-ISE in March 2006.

Congress called for the establishment of the PM-ISE as part of an intelligence reform law enacted in 2004. In 2006, then-President George W. Bush created the office as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

McNamara testified that his office has created a functioning, though still evolving, environment in which officials can share terrorism-related information. The effort is about halfway to full maturity, he said, adding that it has crossed a tipping point. He’s hopeful that the rest of the process will go more quickly.

There is an ongoing debate about whether the office should be relocated within the White House. In testimony, McNamara mentioned a memorandum to agency leaders from President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism issues that described the administration as continuing to review information-sharing issues and prioritize the ISE at a senior level at the White House.

McNamara said a strong relationship with the White House was important, but the decision on where to put the PM-ISE was up to administration officials. He added that he’s had no problems with the support ODNI has given his office.

“I think it’s less important where it’s administratively located than the authorities, the policies and the role that it plays in developing the information-sharing environment,” McNamara said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.