Intell CIOs assess info-sharing initiatives

The U.S. intelligence community is making incremental progress in establishing interoperability across its many information collection, storage and retrieval systems, according to updates given this week by the chief information officers of seven major intelligence agencies.

During a rare group appearance at a panel discussion in Arlington, Va., the CIOs of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency highlighted their agencies' progress in simplifying information exchange within the U.S. intelligence community.

The panel discussion was sponsored by the Washington chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

The CIA recently launched the first version of its library of national intelligence, a repository of collective intelligence data analogous to the Library of Congress, CIO Al Tarasiuk said. The agency is also developing an integration plan that will lay the groundwork for a federated e-mail system for the intelligence community, and is evaluating how to integrate the country's national intelligence data centers, Tarasiuk said.

The FBI is addressing the procedural and technical issues that have hindered users at its fusion centers from freely accessing law enforcement and national security data in readily usable form, CIO Zalmai Azmi said. He signed an internal FBI memo Wednesday morning that spelled out the FBI's approach to sharing information with its partners in the law enforcement and national security communities and how it will let partners access its classified networks, he said.

In a report on the FBI's fusion center program issued in November, the Government Accountability Office said that officials at 31 of the 58 fusion centers reported difficulty in accessing federal systems, while lesser numbers said they experienced problems meeting security requirements or sorting through excessive or redundant data returned by inquiries. The internal FBI memo circulated this week is the FBI's latest step in resolving those issues, Azmi said.

The National Reconnaissance Office has restructured along functional lines to improve its delivery of signal intelligence and imagery data to the nation's warfighters, CIO Charles Barlow said.

The NRO reorganized, effective March 31, 'to provide an earlier warning to the warfighter,' Barlow said. NRO is the Defense Department agency that designs, builds and operates the United States' reconnaissance satellites and provides satellite-collected signal and imagery intelligence to military and national security agencies.

NRO's eventual goal is to enable real-time, two-way interactions between the agency and its users so that, for example, a soldier or intelligence agent in the field could query NRO's systems to immediately listen in on a target's cell phone conversation or request live imagery feeds from a specified location to survey current enemy activity or assess the operational situation, Barlow said.

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