Strategy trumps money on intelligence reform, says former governor

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The architects of intelligence reform must have a clear plan for revamping the community and not focus so much attention on the funding aspect of the task, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore said Tuesday.

"Policymakers themselves need to have some overarching structure," Gilmore, who served as chairman of an anti-terrorism commission named after him, said here at the annual Government Convention on Emerging Technologies. The nation must make sure they are "not just throwing money willy-nilly at the issue. We have to have some strategic direction."

Part of the problem is that the philosophy of the Homeland Security Department has been to protect against vulnerabilities instead of threats, he said. Gilmore, a Republican, praised new Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for vowing to change that structure. "I think it's a very positive development."

Cultural issues at the federal level also have prevented local security officials from getting critical information in a timely manner, Gilmore said. "Congressmen and women have automatic [security] clearances when they're elected," he said. "Governors don't get clearance, and yet they are the ones who command the resources to respond [to], and perhaps prevent," an attack.

"I can't think of any reason why a major police chief can't be cleared and get access to [classified information]," Gilmore added. "If you believe that he is somehow inferior to a staff person at the FBI, you're wrong."

Gilmore acknowledged that changing that reality will be difficult. But if agencies address such cultural issues and explain to lawmakers that change is necessary, "the law will follow," he said.

"I think the threat assessments are everything -- defining the intentions and capabilities of the enemy," he said. Gilmore pointed to rumors that terrorists were learning to be scuba divers. Without more detailed information about what these terrorists plan to do with their scuba-diving knowledge, he said, that information is useless. All officials "have a right to know the validity" of such information. "This is a big challenge."

Officials also need to have meaningful communication with the American people, Gilmore said. "If there is an explosion in this country, you can't let it undo the republic," he said. Citizens are going to have to learn to "roll with it."

Should such an explosion occur, the country is now able to "manage these problems technologically, [which] carries with it an entirely different and potentially transformational quality," Gilmore said.

He called on the private sector and Americans to "decide what kind of society we're building." He said officials and the private sector will need to review planning at the national level; homeland security in connection with state and local officials; specific programs like water control and port security; intelligence reform; and information management in Congress.

In a later session, Kevin Schied, a senior adviser on the federal commission designated to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the panel's recommendations were mostly addressed in the intelligence law enacted last year. "Perhaps not as elegantly as we might have wished," he added, "but that's part of the legislative process."

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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