By Danielle Dean
The Senate Homeland Security, Intelligence and Judiciary committees received a new Joint Report that reviews domestic counterterrorism information sharing practices across federal, state and local entities.
The report concluded that although states are dedicated to the mission of information sharing on counterterrorism initiatives, lack of resources and the broad geographical areas covered per field office have limited the capacity of these entities.
Out of the recommendations outlined in the report, the inspectors general concluded that predictable funding and resources should be dedicated to information sharing programs, and state and local partners should have structured avenues for communication and participation in stakeholder meetings.
Together the inspectors general of the intelligence community, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice reviewed domestic sharing of counterterrorism information with the ultimate objective of:
- Identifying and examining federally funded field-based intelligence entities engaged in counterterrorism information sharing.
- Determining if counterterrorism information is being adequately and appropriately shared.
- Identifying any gaps or duplication of effort.
A total of 23 recommendations were offered where improvements could be made to counterterror information sharing. Although the report acknowledged that federal, state, and local entities remain dedicated to information sharing programs, and have actively implemented initiatives that have improved those efforts, state and local fusion centers cannot improve operations and plan for the future under current funding and resource levels because of its inconsistency and unpredictability.
Specifically, the report highlights that “at the state and local level, fusion centers are focused on sustaining operations rather than enhancing capabilities due to unpredictable federal support. Further, varying requirements for state and local security clearances sponsored by federal agencies can impede access to classified system and facilities.”
Some of the findings and recommendations directly apply to information sharing with state and local partners:
- Encourages state and local partner participation in Joint Terrorism Task Force meetings, establishes a process that ensures input in the process of identifying and prioritizing counterterrorism threats.
- Directs FBI field divisions to identify and invite key stakeholders to Threat Review and Prioritization sessions.
- Establishes which agencies should receive counterterrorism related reports and establishes the process for sharing those results in a systematic and regular basis.
- Provides security clearances and reciprocity to state and local personnel.
The agencies agreed with all 23 recommendations, and in the weeks and months ahead these partners will be working to address the findings and recommendations set forth in this report.
Danielle Dean is a senior policy specialist with NCSL's Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety Committee.