Information Sharing Environment gains a leader

Information Sharing Environment gains a leader

The White House has put a name and a face to the task of creating a system for sharing terrorism information across federal agencies.

John A. Russack, now the Energy Department's intelligence director, will serve as program manager for the Information Sharing Environment. Last year's intelligence reform bill centralized control over spy agencies under a director of national intelligence and also mandated creation of the ISE to link and coordinate government terrorism intelligence resources.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham named Russack to DOE's top intelligence post in February 2003 for a three-year stint. Russack has held several senior CIA jobs, including deputy chief of external operations and cover, deputy assistant director of central intelligence for collection and military deputy director of the agency's Nonproliferation Center. He received a commission as a naval officer on graduation from the University of Kansas in 1970 and has studied intelligence matters at the graduate level.

As ISE program manager, Russack will be responsible for building an online system to connect existing terrorism information resources in various agencies. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandates several characteristics of the ISE. For example, Congress specified use of an information access management method that controls access to data, rather than just to systems and networks. The law also requires that the ISE include directory services that will allow users to find people and information across the government.

The law mandates that the ISE program manager plan, implement and manage the new system. The program manager serves a two-year term unless the president removes and replaces the incumbent, for which he does not need congressional advice or consent.

Russack will take on the information sharing management job against a background of several other agencies that have information sharing functions, including the Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

Congress also gave information sharing tasks to the Justice Department under the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. Justice is working to coordinate law enforcement information sharing via the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative established last May.

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