Intell stumbles in info sharing

National Intelligence Council home page

Although collaboration in the intelligence community has improved, it still struggles with obstacles to information sharing.

That's the assessment of several officials speaking at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet conference in Washington, D.C., June 5-7.

Coping with traditional issues, such as drug trafficking and weapons proliferation, while also dealing with the increasing threat of cyberattacks will require greater collaboration among agencies not accustomed to sharing information, said John Gannon, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which is housed within the CIA.

"We're dealing in the intelligence community with challenges from an increasingly interconnected world," Gannon said, "and if we're going to meet those challenges, we're going to have to be much more interconnected within our own government.

"The challenges ahead will increasingly demand collaboration," he said. "That is critical for us. It is not an option."

Unfortunately, the intelligence agencies lack the necessary connections, Gannon and others said.

"If I were to give a report card today...I would say we still have limited connectivity across the intelligence community and with outside experts," Gannon said. "We have simple search and retrieval tools and complicated stovepiped databases where access is by no means what it needs to be. We have a limited ability to share data and collaborate online. We have limited ability to process and filter information."

Information sharing has improved dramatically, according to some officials. But even when technology is available, the intelligence agencies are not always willing to take advantage of it, said John Brantley, director of the Intelink Management Office. Intelink is the classified intranet for intelligence agencies.

Brantley reported trying to build a common directory database with names and contact information for intelligence analysts and finding that some agencies would not provide names because "they're not sure who's out there watching."

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