Fusion Centers: Critical Role in Information Sharing
This week the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security released a report titled “Advancing the Homeland Security Information Sharing Environment: A Review of the National Network of Fusion Centers.” The report is the culmination of a review on the National Network of Fusion Centers conducted by the Committee at the direction of Chairman Michael McCaul.
The report includes multiple key recommendations regarding the functioning of fusion centers and further integration into various aspects of intelligence analysis and homeland security. These recommendations are divided into several groupings: “Strategies and Guidelines”, “Federal Funding”, “Federal Resources”, “Fusion Center Analysis”, “Fusion Center Outreach”, and “Access to Federal Information and Systems.” For each grouping of analysis, the report provides background information and the Committee’s findings, followed by specific suggestions for areas of improvement.
The overall findings point to significant progress regarding the integration of fusion centers into the process of information sharing. As stated in the report, fusion centers as a whole have significantly increased their collection and analysis of SARs (Suspicious Activity Reporting), as well as implemented many Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) Programs.
Along with this progress has also come the opportunity for future growth and development, as pointed out by the Committee’s report:
“Since the Committee’s 2013 review, the Federal Government has made significant progress integrating fusion centers into the domestic homeland security information sharing environment. Similarly, as the National Network has matured, fusion centers have leveraged federal support to expand their capabilities to address national priorities. This is especially important given the dynamic and complex homeland threat environment. However, as detailed in this report, challenges remain. The Committee will continue its engagement with fusion centers, federal partners, and other key stakeholders to address gaps and ensure the National Network remains a national asset in the homeland security mission.”
While challenges remain, it is clear that fusion centers are a critical component of information sharing and have great potential for the future of homeland security, intelligence analysis, and law enforcement.