Report: significant changes in anti-terrorism plans necessary

Significant changes need to be made within federal, state and local governments to counter terrorism and to protect the nation's critical infrastructure, according to a study publicly released on Tuesday and sent to the White House a day earlier.

The report of the Heritage Foundation's Homeland Security Task Force offers 25 recommendations on how to take a more proactive approach to protecting the nation's computer networks and improving intelligence-gathering, information systems and surveillance systems. Comprised of experts from all levels of government, including several governors, and industry, the task force also stressed that civil liberties can be upheld while increasing anti-terrorism efforts.

"We believe it's possible to achieve a balance between security and liberty," Heritage Vice President Kim Holmes said during a news conference Tuesday.

Congress should remove roadblocks impeding closer communication with industry, the report said. It also urged lawmakers to support measures such as S. 1456, which would exempt companies from certain provisions of the Freedom of Information Act if they freely share with the government information about their system vulnerabilities.

"Everyone needs to be involved in protecting the homeland," said Paul Bremer, former counterterrorism ambassador during the Reagan administration. "The private sector's role cannot be stressed enough."

The President also should appoint liaisons to develop security standards for various industry sectors, the report said, and agencies should create risk-assessment programs for the private sector. The report also suggests that Congress remove tax penalties that make it difficult for industry to invest in security.

Heritage also recommends a new presidential directive to require annual assessments of agency efforts on homeland security, and it cited deficiencies in the Clinton administration's Presidential Directive 63, which sought to fortify the nation's networks against cyber attacks.

The report calls President Bush's appointment of Richard Clarke as the nation's cyber-security chief and the creation of several critical infrastructure boards as a "good first step" but seeks further action.

The report also recommends designating the Global Positioning System as critical infrastructure because it enables telecommunications and other systems to operate. The federal government also should consider alternatives to the proposed GovNet intranet system, the groups said, noting that many experts, including former National Security Adviser Samuel (Sandy) Berger, argue that GovNet would improve security only marginally.

"The President should direct [the General Services Administration] to consult with industry about achieving the same or greater level of security through the use of intranets that rely on the Internet," the report said.

On intelligence and law enforcement, the task force recommends that the White House Office of Homeland Security be required to direct the assessment of threats to critical assets nationwide and that it establish a national group to coordinate intelligence-gathering.

The report also recommends: the creation of a federal-level database accessible to border-security officials to track visa holders; the establishment of a nationwide surveillance network encompassing local, state and federal officials to help respond to chemical, biological or nuclear attacks; and anti-terrorism exercises by states considered most at risk of attack.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.