Federal agencies are to share “biographic, biometric, and related derogatory information” through a new National Vetting Center that will coordinate intelligence to identify people who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security or public safety, according to a presidential memorandum issued Feb. 6.
President Trump charged the secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the secretary of State, the attorney general, and the director of National Intelligence with creating the center to be housed at DHS. “Agencies may conduct any authorized border or immigration vetting activities through or with the Center,” according to the memorandum.
The vetting center will “fulfill the President’s requirement that departments and agencies improve their coordination and use of intelligence and other information in the vetting process,” according to a White House press secretary’s statement. Current federal vetting is “ad hoc, which impedes our ability to keep up with today’s threats,” according to the statement.
Coordinating intelligence and law enforcement information through the vetting center will improve identification of “terrorists, criminals, and other nefarious actors trying to enter and remain” in the United states, the administration said.
“This is yet another step towards knowing who is coming to the United States – that they are who they say they are and that they do not pose a threat to our nation. Our frontline defenders need real-time information to protect our country,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement upon release of the memorandum.
The DHS secretary will name the center director and the other department leaders will assign deputy directors. Each agency must fund its own participation in the Center, and it will not receive interagency funding. The intelligence community will establish a separate “support element” to handle the use of classified intelligence to support the center. The Office of the National Director of Intelligence will supply leadership for the support element.
A board overseeing the center will be composed of senior executives chosen by the secretaries of State, Defense, and Homeland Security; the attorney general; and the directors of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency.