Report on the National Network of Fusion Centers

Combating Terrorism

Last week, Michael McCaul, Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee , and Peter King, Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence , released a Majority Staff Report entitled “The National Network of Fusion Centers.” The report analyzes the effectiveness of fusion centers across the nation “in an effort to understand current strengths and gaps and provide recommendations for improvement.”

Fusion centers are officially defined as “a collaborative effort of 2 or more Federal, State, local, or tribal government agencies that combines resources, expertise, or information with the goal of maximizing the ability of such agencies to detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend, and respond to criminal or terrorist activity.” Individual centers across the country make up the National Network of Fusion Centers, or just “the Network.” These centers were created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks as an effort to promote information sharing across all levels of law enforcement, including emergency responders, in order to make counterterrorism a truly national effort. In spite of the creation of the Network, however, the report states that since 2001 the homeland has fallen victim to terrorist attacks five more times, most recently in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Successful attacks such as this spurred the Committee to review the efficacy of the nation’s fusion centers.

“The Committee’s review concludes that the Network is not functioning as cohesively as it should be and fusion centers are facing numerous challenges that prevent the Network from realizing its full potential to help secure the homeland.” Namely, the report states that fusion centers are largely hindered by differing analysis priorities and a lack of funding.

In order to remedy these issues, the Committee provides 25 recommendations of action in five main areas: Comprehensive Strategies & Measures of Success, Funding, Fusion Center Analysis, Outreach, and Access to Information & Systems. The report maintains that the closing or withdrawing of fusion centers as National mission partners “could be a detriment to our Nation’s security” and asks that the federal government, state, and local stakeholders continue to support the Network as a national asset and homeland security partner.

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