Federal, state and local entities are committed to sharing counterterrorism information by undertaking programs and initiatives that have improved information sharing, however, the Inspectors General (IG) of the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) identified in a joint report on the domestic sharing of counterterrorism information that there are numerous gaps and shortfalls in “several areas in which improvements could enhance the sharing of counterterrorism information.”
The IGs’ joint report stated that, “To share information effectively, the federal, state and local entities actively involved in counterterrorism efforts must understand each other’s roles, responsibilities and contributions, especially when multiple agencies are involved in complex investigations. The review found that this is an area where information sharing could be strengthened. For example, both DHS and the FBI have counterterrorism-related missions and a role in gathering and disseminating counterterrorism information, yet officials from both of these agencies expressed concerns about potential overlaps in law enforcement and counterterrorism missions and activities.”
“In addition,” the IGs’ report said, “although there is a national-level, interagency information sharing strategy, its implementation has been viewed to be uneven. The IGs believe that the Office of Director of Nation Intelligence (ODNI), DHS and DOJ should review the interagency information sharing agreements and take necessary actions to update intelligence information sharing standards and processes among the departments, which we believe would result in better implementation of the strategy and foster greater and more consistent cooperation."
In response to a request from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the joint IGs’ report also determined the following:
- The DHS Intelligence Enterprise—the integrated function of DHS intelligence components and programs—is not as effective and valuable to the IC as it could be. For example, there is a lack of unity across the DHS Intelligence Enterprise, problems with the Office of Intelligence & Analysis staffing levels in the field, issues with the internal intelligence product review and approval processes, and difficulty accessing classified systems and facilities in the field.
- DOJ can improve its counterterrorism information sharing efforts by implementing a consolidated internal DOJ strategy and evaluating the continued need and most effective utilization for the US Attorneys’ Offices’ Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council meetings. In addition, the FBI should spur participationassociated with the Joint Terrorism Task Forces and improve its efforts to obtain partners’ input to the process for identifying and prioritizing counterterrorism threats.
- Within the ODNI, the Domestic DNI Representative Program is hindered by large geographic regions, as well as the lack of a clear strategic vision and guidance. In addition, the National Counterterrorism Center Domestic Representative Program has also struggled to sufficiently cover its regions.
- At the state and local level, fusion centers are focused on sustaining operations rather than enhancing capabilities due to unpredictable federal support. Further, varying requirements for state and local security clearances sponsored by federal agencies can impede access to classified systems and facilities.
The joint IGs’ report made 23 recommendations to the components of ODNI, DHS and, DOJ to help improve the sharing of counterterrorism information and ultimately, enhance the government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks.
The components of ODNI, DHS and DOJ agreed with all 23 recommendations.