Feds urged to take lead vs. terror
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 25, 2002
"Assessing the Implications of the Terrorist Attacks on America for Justice
Information and Technology"
The federal government will have to invest billions to develop and expand
the telecommunications infrastructure, purchase equipment, do more research
and integrate government systems at all levels in order to prevent terrorist
attacks, according to a new report.
SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics,
released the report, which is based on assessments by a focus group of more
than 50 experts from local, state and federal governments and the private
sector conducted Dec. 11 to 12.
The group examined federal policies, laws and regulatory initiatives
since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Participants also evaluated the technical
and operational capabilities of existing technologies as well as the information
available in existing and planned databases, and they assessed the information
technology and business practice implications for state and local justice
Federal counterterrorism legislation and policies passed after Sept.
11 — such as the USA Patriot and the Aviation and Transportation Security
acts — presumed the existence of automation among justice agencies and
the broad implementation of biometric technologies, said David Roberts,
deputy executive director of SEARCH, which is based in Sacramento, Calif.
But although some technologies exist, they are not linked to information
systems, he said. For example, a proposal for a "safe flier card," he said,
requires identity verification linked to databases, which would ideally
have relevant criminal justice information about that person boarding the
But Roberts added that officials also hadn't defined the criteria for
being able to hold a safe flier card, such as whether an arrest or conviction
for driving under the influence disqualifies a person.
"Now we've got to define the screening criteria and [whether] we're
going to exclude people with certain criminal convictions," he said as an
Such technologies — whether for identity verification or detection
— need to be placed at critical areas and the level of automation among
all justice agencies in the country needs to be improved, Roberts said.
He added that because this is a national initiative, the federal government
has a significant leadership role.