Bush releases national strategy for sharing intelligence

The Bush administration has released the first comprehensive national strategy for how federal, state, local and tribal officials; foreign governments; and the private sector should share terrorism-related intelligence.

The National Strategy for Information Sharing, released Oct. 31, chronicles the administration’s efforts since the 2001 terrorist attacks and outlines a national policy for sharing terrorism-related information.

The strategy was welcomed by some lawmakers who a little more than a month ago joined the Government Accountability Office in criticizing President Bush for failing to create a long-term plan for the fusion centers through which state, local and federal agencies share threat data.

“This is a good product,” said Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) in a statement. “It includes many things that some members of Congress -– including Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and me –- have been saying for years.”

During a subcommittee hearing Sept. 27, Harman said that although the fusion center concept was sound, the strategy needed work. She is chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee.

Furthermore, the federal government needed to “determine and articulate its long-term fusion center role and whether it expects to provide resources to centers to help ensure their sustainability,” said Eileen Larence, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office, in written testimony during the hearing.

The new strategy presents a vision for the 58 fusion centers that have been -- or are in the process of being -- established nationwide. It calls for fusion centers to achieve a baseline of capability and pursue the goal of establishing a “national, integrated network of fusion centers to enable the effective sharing of terrorism-related information.” The strategy also promises to support the centers through grant funding and training.

Additionally, the document lists core privacy principles that administration officials say require agencies to comply with privacy laws and be proactive in balancing privacy and security concerns.

However, Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that although the strategy is a positive step toward transparency, the privacy principles are too vague, and as a policy statement, it lacks outside oversight and enforceability. Furthermore, without a statutory definition, privacy principles mean little, she added.

“What this administration defines as protecting the rights of Americans is real fuzzy at this point,” she said. “One person’s terrorism may be another person’s free speech.”

The strategy encourages each state to define and document how it will share information within its borders. State, local and tribal authorities are also required to collaborate with the federal government to establish and disseminate baseline operational standards for the centers.

The federal government will adjust funding levels to ensure that the centers continue to comply with baseline operating standards even after they reach them. Under the guidelines, federal and state or local authorities will also establish processes and standards for reporting incidents, issuing alerts and warnings, and improving situational awareness.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group