GAO identifies nearly three dozen networks supporting homeland security

GAO identifies nearly three dozen networks supporting homeland security

More than 34 major government networks support homeland security functions, the Government Accountability Office reported today.

Nine agencies run the 34 networks: the Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Treasury departments and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Not a typical GAO report, the fact-finding brief responds to a request from Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) that the audit agency draw up a list of networks supporting homeland security efforts. As such, GAO drew few conclusions from the tally of networks, but it noted that the government spends upwards of $1 billion to run and maintain them.

On its list, GAO included two networks now being developed but omitted classified networks that the government has not 'publicly acknowledged.'

Several homeland security studies, including that of the findings of the the 9/11 Commissionave criticized the government for relying on a hodgepodge of homeland security networks because they hinder information sharing.

Of the networks GAO identified, 21 are for internal agency communications. 'Six of the 34 are used to share information with state and local governments; four share information with the private sector,' the report said.

GAO found eight networks are publicly acknowledged classified networks, including seven in use and one in development; 18 are sensitive but unclassified networks; and eight unclassified networks.

The briefing also noted that the Homeland Security Department is developing a new network called the Homeland Secure Data Network to link several agencies [see GCN story].

GAO added that more than 100 systems support homeland security missions. That count is lower by a factor of five than the number of systems federal officials identified when they began counting those in the DHS component agencies in last year [see GCN story]. GAO stated that its tally of major systems is not exhaustive.

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