Report urges better information sharing

The next president and Congress need to be more effective in applying information sharing to strengthen intelligence efforts against terrorism, according to a new report issued by two think tanks.

The next administration also should focus more on building preparedness, resiliency and professionalism for homeland security, said the Homeland Security 3.0 report, which includes 25 recommendations for improvement. The study was issued Sept. 18 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Heritage Foundation.

Despite many federal initiatives to improve sharing information about terrorism, the processes in place are still “piecemeal and incoherent,” according to authors David Heyman, director of homeland security for CSIS, and James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow for homeland security and national security at Heritage.

The Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community’s attempts to create fusion centers to share information have become bogged down, and despite some progress in the Director of National Intelligence’s Information Sharing Environment program, overall the federal efforts are inadequate, they wrote.

Also, government efforts to use commercial technologies for information sharing have been ineffective to date, the report said.

The next president and Congress should provide for more education and public debate on intelligence and create a national framework for information sharing, they wrote. The president also should issue an executive order establishing a timetable for governmentwide compliance with standards set in the Information Sharing Environment, along with a doctrine for applying commercial technologies.

The United States also is falling short on identifying and protecting its electric grid, financial systems, telecommunications and other necessary systems, the report said.

The Bush administration’s approach has not been rigorous or discriminating enough, the authors wrote. It confuses the need to protect vulnerable infrastructure entities, such as chemical plants, with the need to sustain critical systems such as electric power, financial services and telecommunications, the report said. The result is “government policies that are inadequate to address both concepts,” the report said.

“The vital elements of resiliency — surge capacity, national continuity of operations, reconstitution and recovery of key response systems, and robust public infrastructure — have not been adequately addressed,” the report said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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