Calls for better intelligence data sharing intensify

How to reform the nation's intelligence community has become a popular debate in Washington this summer, and a panel of experts on Thursday offered more ideas.

The issue has become central to the investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the commission looking into it is expected to release a report next month.

The House Homeland Security Committee - a new entrant to the longstanding debate about intelligence "stovepipes," the term used to describe communications that travel only vertically, within agencies, and not to other agencies - was the locus for Thursday's discussion.

Former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey recommended that Congress hold executive session hearings with top officials from the various intelligence agencies and generally backed a proposal by California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman to create a new director of national intelligence (DNI).

Former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, who headed a security commission, offered support for the currently temporary Homeland Security Committee to continue its work but said the committee that holds such hearings must be "steeped in expertise." He said a national director would need budgetary and personnel authority in order not to be a "sitting duck."

Gilmore also raised questions about working with the Defense Department, which he said has the most money, power and talent. "They don't work with the CIA, and they don't work with the DNI under the proposal, and they don't work with Homeland Security," he said.

Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird recommended that the committee focus on setting rules for information sharing. She presented Markle's proposal to create a central database for intelligence from all sources, accessible by anyone who needs more information at any time.

Several committee members raised concerns about the lack of government success in improving information sharing. "Almost three years later, all must acknowledge that, despite serious and sustained efforts by responsible government agencies, we still do not have the level of timely, routine and unfettered information sharing we know we need to prevent terrorism and respond to it as effectively as we must," said committee Chairman Christopher Cox, R-Calif.

Committee ranking Democrat Jim Turner of Texas provided a chart showing the competing information-sharing systems within rival agencies. He said that picture was further complicated by the addition of the Homeland Security Department and the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), an interagency intelligence-fusion center housed at the CIA.

"Creating and maintaining multiple intelligence centers is a recipe for continued confusion, and the failure to coordinate the work of these various centers has real-world consequences," he said.

Several committee members and witnesses said the nation's "first responders" to emergencies, especially local police, will continue to be a primary source for intelligence. They said states and localities continue to lack access to key information and to tools for sharing it. Turner said first responders would not know who to call in a national emergency.

Separately, the U.S. Joint Forces Command on Thursday announced that it is seeking industry help in developing a more efficient multinational information-sharing environment.

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

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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