Napolitano backs fusion centers

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said March 11 that state and local intelligence fusion centers are important to her department's information-sharing efforts. She made the remarks before the National Fusion Center Conference in Kansas City.

“At the Department of Homeland Security, information and intelligence sharing is a top priority, and fusion centers play an important role in helping to make that happen,” Napolitano said in prepared remarks. “In the world we live in today, it’s critical for federal, state, local and tribal entities to know what the others are doing so each can operate effectively and efficiently.”

In recent years, state and local authorities have established, with federal funding, about 70 of the centers that are designed to improve information sharing between authorities from different levels of government. The administration of former President George W. Bush  designated fusion centers as a central node for the federal government’s efforts for sharing terrorism-related information with state and local officials, and Congress has designated DHS as the lead federal agency for that effort. DHS said it has directed more than $327 million in funding to the centers between fiscal 2004 and 2008.

In earlier testimony before Congress, Napolitano said she planned to make intelligence sharing with state and local authorities a priority during her tenure and wanted to focus on fusion centers. In January, Napolitano ordered a review of DHS’ existing programs that share intelligence with state and local authorities.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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