Gaps haven't closed in data sharing

Networks run by the Homeland Security Department and law enforcement and intelligence agencies are starting to close up some of their gaps.

DHS officials, speaking last week at the Information Sharing for Homeland Security symposium in Orlando, Fla., said they plan by year's end to elevate the Homeland Security Information Network, launched in February, to the secret level.

HSIN now operates at the sensitive but unclassified level.

Meanwhile, the intelligence community plans this year to add a new, secret-level capability to the TTIC Online network, now top-secret only. TTIC Online draws its information largely from the interagency Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

HSIN, also known as the Joint Regional Information Exchange System, is not yet connected to the Law Enforcement Online/Regional Information Sharing System/Open Source Information System network, which operates at the sensitive but unclassified level.

Miles Matthews, chief operating officer of RISSnet, said too many homeland security networks are proliferating.

RISSnet and HSIN officials have met to talk about connecting the two networks, he said, but it hasn't happened yet.

'The key is to stop sharing in a hierarchical manner,' said Charles Church, CIO of DHS' Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate. 'The difference between a catastrophe and an incident is sharing the information.'

Part of the reason for the gaps and overlaps is the absence of a policy framework for gathering, analyzing and disseminating homeland security intelligence, said Joel Bagnal, former special assistant to the president for counter-terrorism.

Bagnal said there is a framework in place for foreign intelligence sharing, which revolves around the National Security Council at the White House.

'On the domestic side, we don't have a framework,' Bagnal said. 'We need a clear understanding of what the [intelligence] requirements are.

'We need a policy framework that covers not only vertical information sharing with the states but horizontal information sharing across the federal government. To say who is going to control it right now from the policy level'that question is unanswered.'

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