Report critical of administration’s info-sharing efforts

An influential non-profit foundation on Thursday issued a report criticizing the Bush administration's failure to effectively encourage its various departments and state and local law enforcement authorities to share anti-terrorism information.

The report praised President Bush and Congress for understanding the need to better share critical information to prevent terrorism, but pressed the administration to reinvigorate efforts to break obstacles preventing law enforcers and intelligence authorities from collaborating effectively.

"Efforts to enhance information sharing have been bogged down by gaps in leadership, policy articulation, turf wars and struggles over competing -- and frequently incompatible -- technologies," wrote the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. The chairs of the group are foundation President Zoe Baird and former Netscape Communications CEO Jim Barksdale, who is a partner with the Barksdale Group.

The taskforce is composed of technologists, former intelligence officials, members of think tanks and civil libertarians.

The 93-page report details suggestions on how data kept by intelligence and law enforcement agencies could be stored, labeled, managed, shared and audited to make information sharing between departments more efficient. It also suggests ways to make officials more accountable.

It argues that a clearer management approach would be to promote trust between various department officials. It also says policies need to be established to ensure officials feel that they can safely share the information without negative repercussions on their careers.

One of its big ideas is the idea of creating an "authorized use" standard to determine who can access lawfully-collected information. Civil libertarians are concerned that the government is amassing huge databases on people and mining the information without appropriate oversight.

The authorized use standard would require government officials to clearly outline a well-defined mission and would subject the officials to audits. These procedures would be coded into software, which the officials would use to manage their investigations and information-sharing activities. Human facilitators would arbitrate disputes between department officials that arise over refusals to share sensitive information.

"We felt that it was important to define another standard for the sharing of legally collected information because we felt that the standards that were being applied were not focused on the right basis for making a determination," Baird said an event to release the report.

"Simply because the information was collected inside the U.S. or outside the U.S., simply because it was information that was collected about a U.S. person, or about a non-U.S. person caused there to be a great deal of debate about where you could share it -- as opposed to being around whether it should be shared because it was extremely useful information," she added.

The goal is to strike a balance between providing the executive branch with a blank check to conduct anti-terrorism investigations and loosening restrictions that might impede officials' willingness to share information, she said.

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.