Homeland Security: Information Sharing Responsibilities, Challenges, and Key Management Issues Page: 4 of 53
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Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I am pleased to be here today to discuss challenges for the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) in integrating its information gathering and sharing
functions. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 brought together 22 diverse
organizations and created a new cabinet-level department to help prevent terrorist
attacks in the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to
terrorist attacks, and minimize damage and assist in recovery from attacks that do
occur. To accomplish this mission, the Act established specific homeland security
responsibilities for the department and directed it to coordinate its efforts and
share information among its own entities and with other federal agencies, state
and local governments, the private sector, and others.
In my testimony today, I will summarize GAO's analysis of information sharing as
an integral part of fulfilling DHS's mission and responsibilities. I will then discuss
GAO's related prior analyses and recommendations for improving the federal
government's information sharing efforts. Lastly, I will discuss the key
management issues DHS should consider in developing and implementing
effective information sharing processes and systems.
In preparing this testimony, we relied on prior GAO reports and testimonies on
combating terrorism, critical infrastructure protection (CIP), homeland security,
information sharing, information technology (IT), and national preparedness,
among others. We also reviewed and analyzed the National Strategy for
Homeland Security, the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, the National
Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets,
the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism,' the Homeland Security Act of
2002,2 and other relevant federal policies. Our work was performed during April
and May 2003 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
Results in Brief
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other federal policy, including the
National Strategy for Homeland Security, assign responsibilities to DHS for the
coordination and sharing of information related to threats of domestic terrorism,
within the department and with and between other federal agencies, state and
local governments, the private sector, and other entities. For example, to
accomplish its missions, the new department must (1) access, receive, and
analyze law enforcement information, intelligence information, and other threat,
1The White House, The National Strategy for Homeland Security (Washington, D.C.: July 2002); The National
Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (Washington, D.C.: February 2003); The National Strategy for the Physical
Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (Washington, D.C.: February 2003); and The National
Strategy for Combating Terrorism (Washington, D.C.: February 2003).
2 Public Law 107-296.
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United States. General Accounting Office. Homeland Security: Information Sharing Responsibilities, Challenges, and Key Management Issues, text, May 8, 2003; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290343/m1/4/: accessed November 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.