Horn: Feds must keep state, local security officials in the loop

Horn: Feds must keep state, local security officials in the loop

Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation before the end of the current congressional session requiring federal agencies to give state and local officials timely access to classified information when they are responding to specific threats in their communities.

The Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations heard testimony last month that certain state and local officials, including governors and mayors, were denied classified federal information after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

'This is an information sharing bill,' a committee representative said. 'When local and state officials are assigned to a joint federal task force and classified materials are involved, we've heard over and over again that task force members would be given clearance, but the officials they report to would not. The task force members then could not share the information with those in charge of acting on it.'

Horn, chairman of the subcommittee, said disparate computer systems contribute to the problem. Although the Justice Department and other agencies are working on solving the technical problems, Horn said, agencies still are too worried about protecting their turf.

'Local officials who are on the front lines of homeland security must have the best information available,' Horn said in a statement.

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