Final intelligence reform bill stresses data sharing

The bill 'will allow us to use the best technology to make sure we are sharing and culling the vast amount of information we are gathering,' Sen. Joseph Lieberman says.

The national intelligence reform bill passed by Congress last week would mobilize IT for counterterrorism information sharing.

The draft law would create two powerful new jobs, director of national intelligence and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, both charged with strengthening information sharing.

'We know from our extensive review of the findings of the 9/11 Commission that various agencies had pieces of the puzzle that [if assembled] might have allowed them to prevent the attacks,' Sen. Susan Collins said in introducing the final version of the bill, S. 2845.

The Maine Republican, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said the bill would foster a new culture of information sharing in the intelligence community.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), also speaking on the floor, said the bill 'requires the president to establish a network of policies and technologies for information sharing.'

Lieberman added that the bill 'will allow us to use the best technology to make sure we are sharing and culling the vast amount of information we are gathering.'

The bill includes specific IT provisions:
  • A mandate for a trusted information network and data-sharing environment to link all levels of government and parts of the private sector

  • A requirement for the president to designate an official responsible for information sharing who would report on the technological, legal and policy barriers to information sharing and would create an electronic directory for homeland security and intelligence information

  • A directive that the administration publish guidelines for information sharing and create an Executive Council on Information Sharing

  • A provision that the DHS' chief privacy officer report directly to the department's secretary
  • A mandate for a pilot program for advanced technology testing along the northern border, including robot aircraft, sensors and systems to link them

  • A directive that DHS link all databases holding information about aliens

  • A mandate for a new Geospatial Management Office within DHS' CIO office

  • A directive that the FBI create and follow an enterprise architecture.

A casualty in the final version was language that would have elevated the cybersecurity director's job in the management chain. Earlier versions called for making the director an assistant secretary.

The job is vacant now. Amit Yoran resigned as director of information assurance and infrastructure protection in September. DHS has not named his replacement.

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