Fusion centers to be assessed

Plans are in the works to review fusion centers' progress

This story was edited at 11:30 a.m., March 5, 2010, to clarify the National Fusion Center Association's role in fusion center assessments.

A process is being developed through which federal, state and local authorities would collaborate to assess state and local intelligence fusion centers that use information technology to share homeland security-related information.

Fusion centers will conduct self-assessments, followed by a gap analysis and peer reviews, according to officials at the National Fusion Center Association, a new not-for-profit organization based in Alexandria, Va., that represents the 72 fusion centers.

The assessments are meant to determine their progress in reaching baseline capabilities. Those capabilities were created by a federal advisory committee that also wrote the original guidelines for those centers.

States and municipalities own and run fusion centers. The Homeland Security Department serves as the lead federal agency coordinating and funding the centers, and spent about $350 million on them between fiscal years 2004 and 2008.

Related stories:

Feds to publish fusion center guidelines

First, fusion center directors are to do a self-analysis of how well their own centers are meeting the baseline capabilities, and then a gap analysis will be conducted under the plan, said Delaware State Police Captain William Harris, who commands that state’s fusion center and chairs NFCA’s communications and outreach committee. Harris made the comments today during a hearing held by the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee.

After that hearing, Harris and Ross Ashley, a former DHS official who is the executive director of NFCA, further described the assessment plans. Following the self-assessment phase, fusion center officials, working with federal authorities, would conduct, over the next two years, peer-to-peer assessments of the centers’ capabilities, the officials said. Eventually, fusion centers would undergo an accreditation process for meeting those baseline capabilities, they added.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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