Creating an Information Sharing Environment: Status of Implementation

August 23, 2012 9:59

On July 24, the U.S. government’s Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) released its 2012 ISE Annual Report to Congress. The report documents the extent to which the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is being implemented. After 9/11, it became clear that first-rate information collection, analysis, communications, and sharing would be needed to obtain advance warning of terrorist threats and keep the American people safe. As established by IRTPA, the role of the Program Manager is to coordinate information sharing across sectors in order to gather terrorism-related information and improve national security.

Progress toward implementing IRTPA is documented using a set of criteria, including mission effectiveness, and the extent to which privacy and other civil liberties are being protected. In a Foreword to the report, Kshemendra Paul, the PM-ISE, emphasized the following areas of improvement since 9/11: “interoperability of our sensitive but unclassified computer networks, capabilities of our fusion centers, and mission impact of our nationwide suspicious activity reporting practices.”

This year’s report also includes an analysis of gaps in information sharing, and documents several areas for improvement, including data aggregation and information sharing business models. For example, the report suggests that transforming existing sharing models through consolidation, regionalization, and reuse of open standards could conserve money and resources, especially among local law enforcement agencies. Finally, the report provides a set of objectives the PM-ISE plans on using in determining how to move forward. These include advancing information sharing to further counterterrorism and homeland security missions, leading a transformation from information ownership to information stewardship, and promoting partnerships across public, private, and international sectors. (The way forward for the PM-ISE is also the subject of a White Paper that was released last week.)

The topics covered in the report are highly relevant to the work of The Markle Foundation. In 2002, the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age offered a framework to strengthen national security and protect civil liberties through the creation of a trusted information sharing environment that would foster collaboration across sectors. The recommendations of the Markle Task Force informed the 9/11 Commission Report, and were enacted through executive order and legislation, including the IRTPA. Markle has further laid the groundwork for the ISE by offering detailed guidelines on key technology and policy issues, including the safeguarding of civil liberties, increasing trust between agencies, and implementing clear standards to mobilize information and create trusted information sharing.

Learn more about Markle’s work on information sharing and our views how to move forward.

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