You know I can’t go more than a few blog entries without coming back to one of my favorite subjects: fusion centers. I was excited to find the transcript of a speech given by Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Bart Johnson in my inbox on this Monday morning. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Johnson from the intelligence community and I can imagine being tasked with aligning all the various stakeholders involved in fusion centers is a fairly enormous task, especially since it involves, well, just about everyone.
The speech, which was given at the National Homeland Defense Foundation Symposium VII in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Nov. 9, covered a wide range of issues including how fusion centers are reaching out to local and state law enforcement. One of the interesting points I picked out of his speech was the intention to bring together stakeholders from other sectors outside the intelligence community. Who, you ask? Well, people like you.
While continuing our support for state and local law enforcement operations within fusion centers, I&A also supports the integration of the fire and emergency services, public health and healthcare communities, critical infrastructure and key resource protection efforts, and cyber security into the fusion centers.
While the intention of fusion centers is to bring together stakeholders from private and public sectors, they seem to have run into some issues communicating with one another. All the fusion centers are locally run (by state and local agencies), yet they are all suppose to coordinate with one another. In his speech, Johnson acknowledged this “growing up separate” issue:
By the end of fiscal 2010, we will deploy DHS personnel to all 72 recognized fusion centers and all 72 centers will have access to our Homeland Security Data Network that carries classified information up to the Secret level.
Currently, I&A has 44 field representatives deployed to fusion centers across the country, he said.
In order to bring these fusion centers together, I&A has been tasked with managing the Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office. Because, in government, you obviously need someone to coordinate the coordinators. Holy smokes bureaucracy hurts my brain sometimes.
Anyway, Johnson said the department is currently working on one of most important functions of fusion centers, which is to make sure information gets to the proper people. After all, what good is information if those who need it don’t have it? He said that the I&A is in the final stage of conducting a study on how to better share information with state and local law enforcement partners. Have you voiced your thoughts yet?