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Fusion Centers' Information Sharing Improves, DHS Watchdog Says

By Matthew Harwood

 

Room for improvement remains, however. The report found that state and urban fusion center personnel had to rely on using personal contacts to get information from DHS agency components like Customs and Border Protection or the Transportation Security Administration.

The OIG also discovered that unfinished intelligence products known as Homeland Intelligence Reports (HIRs) were not disseminated fast enough. "HIRs are used to share information quickly with state and local personnel on suspicious activities prior to being fully vetted," the report states, but notes an internal DHS "quarterly performance report on the fusion center support request process shows that 144 HIRs were overdue as of March 2010." Fusion center personnel also complained that DHS does not give them enough time to have their own intelligence analysts contribute to DHS intelligence products.

Technology problems also have interfered with the ability of fusion center personnel to share information. According to the OIG, the three IT systems DHS uses to share information are inadequate due to navigation problems, inability to search across multiple systems and DHS databases, and the lack of useful content. Instead, fusion center personnel have to rely on e-mail and phone calls for intelligence sharing and situational awareness.

"E-mail may meet fusion centers' need for situation awareness," the OIG report concludes, "however, collaboration across state, local, and federal partners to 'connect the dots' to prevent and deter threats remains a challenge without effective information sharing IT systems."


 ♦ Snapshot of report cover, Information Sharing With Fusion Centers Has Improved, but Information System Challenges Remain

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