Bush details plan for more effective information sharing

President Bush on Monday unveiled details on the administration's plan to more effectively share terrorism-related information among federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector.

Bush sent the details in the form of "guidelines" and "requirements" to the heads of government departments and agencies, and to lawmakers. The guidelines concern the role and scope of the authority of department chiefs. They also implement commonalities in technical standards and architectures to expedite the process of intra-government information sharing.

The changes aim to clarify how government officials should treat classified information as they share data. Additionally, the president's order would designate specific officials within government departments to handle information-sharing activities.

In a letter to Congress, Bush explained that the details are part of his effort to build the "information-sharing environment," or ISE, as required by a 2004 intelligence law.

"The ISE is intended to enable the federal government and our state, local, tribal and private-sector partners to share appropriate information relating to terrorists, their threats, plans, networks, supporters and capabilities while, at the same time, respecting the information privacy and other legal rights of all Americans," he wrote. "Creating the ISE is a difficult and complex task that will require a sustained effort and strong partnership with the Congress."

In April, Bush nominated former Energy Department Intelligence Director John Russack to expand the environment. Russack is a former CIA official and reports to John Negroponte, the national intelligence director. Russack held the first official meeting of the Information Sharing Council in November.

James Lewis, a Center for Strategic and International Studies' senior fellow, said the most critical elements of Monday's announcement concern the assignation of specific officials to handle information-sharing activities, the effort to build a common information architecture, and the revamped system for classifying information.

He noted that the changes still have to play out in the implementation process. In the past, the lack of clarity on how to effectively share sensitive terrorism-related information among federal and state authorities acted as major roadblocks in effective terrorist prevention, as noted by a key report issued by a commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Lewis said.

Many of the information-sharing provisions in the 2004 intelligence act came from a report issued by the Markle Foundation. Michael Vatis, a former high-level government official and former executive director of the foundation's task force on national security in the information age, called the ongoing establishment of the president's information-sharing initiative "vital."

"[The initiative] actually creates a framework for sharing information while also protecting some of the legitimate interests of the security of the information," he said. The plan creates procedures for sharing information, and it calls for the use of technologies to selectively share information across the government.

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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • 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.

  • 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.


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