Collaboration prepped for intell

Intelligence Community Collaboration Baseline Study

Top intelligence officials are expected to begin making funding decisions in July on a major effort to improve information sharing among the intelligence agencies.

The Intelligence Community Systems Information Sharing (ICSIS) initiative is in the early stages of development and is scheduled for review in July by the Intelligence Community Deputies Committee, a panel of high-ranking officials from each of the intelligence agencies. That meeting likely will determine whether funding will be provided for the information sharing initiative, which is described as the intelligence piece of the Global Information Grid.

"We're trying to get ready to go before the Intelligence Community Deputies Committee again to give them the bottom line so that they can make some decisions about what they want to do in the [2002-2005] time frame," said Mike Swindle, a Defense Intelligence Agency representative working on the project. "This is about check writing. This is about priority. This is about how people begin working together in a real way."

He said the project is about more than technology — it's about changing the way the intelligence community does business.

"This is going to set the tone for the intelligence community for at least the next budget year, and if it goes the way we think it's going to go, it's going to set the tone for the following budget years," Swindle said.

Among other things, ICSIS is expected to provide a Web-based one-stop shop for intelligence data, security through the use of public-key infrastructure, and information available at the fingertips at any time and from any spot on the globe.

The effort was officially kicked off in December. The committee reviewed four options for meeting the established requirements and chose ISCIS.

In 1999 the intelligence community sponsored a study on collaboration between the agencies that found collaboration barely exists.

The "Intelligence Community Collaboration Baseline Study" found that "the growing demand for accurate, relevant and timely intelligence from a large customer base, including policymakers, warfighters and law enforcement entities, is straining resources available to monitor, process and report on an explosion of available information."

The study also noted that "key areas of concern include a cultural tradition inconsistent with information sharing; lack of common goals for collaboration across the community; lack of trust in organizations, individuals, and systems; lack of perceived mutual benefit to participate in collaboration efforts; and inadequate reward systems to support collaboration."

Swindle said the intelligence community is largely overcoming those obstacles, saying one of the most exciting things about ISCIS is that the intelligence community is working on it together.

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