IG: Fusion centers need better information from DHS
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Jan 07, 2009
The Homeland Security Department is improving how it delivers
information to state and local fusion centers, but the centers still
have problems in receiving “adequate and timely” information, according
to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.
report posted on the Web on Jan. 6 provides details on how the
department supports and offers guidance to 58 intelligence fusion
centers that combine efforts to fight crime and provide intelligence on
As of April 2008, DHS’ Office of Intelligence
and Analysis had deployed 23 intelligence officers to the centers. The
department also had provided $254 million to the centers from fiscal
2004 through fiscal 2007.
The department’s coordination efforts
with fusion centers are improving, evolving and adding value to the
centers, the inspector general said. “However, challenges remain with
internal Department of Homeland Security coordination, aligning
fusion-center activities and funding with the department’s mission, and
deploying personnel to state and local fusion centers in a timely
manner,” the report said.
Also, the centers continue to report problems in getting useful information from the department, Skinner wrote.
officials remain concerned that Intelligence and Analysis has not
developed an action plan to ensure that it understands and can meet the
centers’ evolving and unique needs. Such needs include receiving
adequate and timely information from DHS, assistance in navigating DHS’
complex organization, and obtaining initial and ongoing training for
state and local analysts,” the report said.
Many state and local
officials complained that in the past, they received irrelevant and
outdated information from the department. DHS is working to correct
that situation and conducted a pilot program with several centers to
improve its response to requests for information, the report said.
program identified several areas that need improvement, including
establishing a single point of entry to submit requests for
information, improving response time and training fusion-center
personnel on how to access information. While this was helpful, some
problems remain, the IG concluded.
The IG made seven recommendations for improvement, and DHS officials agreed with the recommendations.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.