Homeland Security: Preliminary Information on Federal Actions to Address Challenges Faced by State and Local Information Fusion Centers Page: 2 of 17
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Accountability. Integrity. Reliability
Highlights of GAO-07-1241T, testimony
before the Subcommittee on Intelligence,
Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk
Why GAO Did This Study
In general, a fusion center is a
collaborative effort to detect,
prevent, investigate, and respond to
criminal and terrorist activity.
Recognizing that fusion centers are
a mechanism for information
sharing, the federal government-
including the Program Manager for
the Information Sharing
Environment (PM-ISE), who has
primary responsibility for
sharing, the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS), and the
Department of Justice (DOJ)-is
taking steps to partner with fusion
This testimony is based on GAO's
draft report on state and local
fusion centers. It addresses (1) the
status and characteristics of the
centers and (2) to what extent
federal efforts help alleviate
challenges fusion centers
identified. In conducting this work
GAO reviewed center-related
documents and conducted
interviews with officials from DHS,
DOJ, and the PM-ISE, and
semistructured interviews with
58 state and local fusion centers.
In its draft report, GAO is
recommending that the federal
government determine and
articulate its long-term fusion
center role and whether it expects
to provide resources to centers to
help ensure their sustainability.
GAO's draft report is currently at
DHS, DOJ, and the PM-ISE for
review and comment.
Preliminary Information on Federal Actions to
Address Challenges Faced by State and Local
Information Fusion Centers
What GAO Found
Most states and many local governments have established fusion centers to
address gaps in information sharing. Fusion centers across the country vary in
their stages of development-from operational to early in the planning stages.
Officials in 43 of the centers GAO contacted described their centers as
operational, and 34 of these centers had opened since January 2004. Law
enforcement entities, such as state police or state bureaus of investigation, are
the lead or managing agencies in the majority of the operational centers GAO
contacted. However, the centers varied in their staff sizes and partnerships
with other agencies. At least 34 of the 43 operational fusion centers we
contacted reported that they had federal personnel assigned to their centers.
Products disseminated and services provided vary.
DHS and DOJ have several efforts under way that begin to address some of
the challenges fusion center officials identified. DHS and DOJ have provided
many fusion centers access to their information systems, but fusion center
officials cited challenges accessing and managing multiple information
systems. Both DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have
provided security clearances for state and local personnel and set timeliness
goals. However, officials cited challenges obtaining and using security
clearances. Officials in 43 of the 58 fusion centers contacted reported facing
challenges related to obtaining personnel, and officials in 54 fusion centers
reported challenges with funding, some of which affected these centers'
sustainability. They said that these issues made it difficult to plan for the
future, and created concerns about the fusion centers' ability to sustain their
capability for the long term. To support fusion centers, both DHS and FBI
have assigned personnel to the centers. To help address funding issues, DHS
has made several changes to address restrictions on the use of federal grant
funds. These individual agency efforts help address some of the challenges
with personnel and funding. However, the federal government has not clearly
articulated the long-term role it expects to play in sustaining fusion centers. It
is critical for center management to know whether to expect continued
federal resources, such as personnel and grant funding, since the federal
government, through an information sharing environment, expects to rely on a
nationwide network of centers to facilitate information sharing with state and
local governments. Finally, DHS, DOJ, and the PM-ISE have taken steps to
develop guidance and provide technical assistance to fusion centers, for
instance by issuing guidelines for establishing and operating centers.
However, officials at 31 of the 58 centers said they had challenges training
their personnel, and officials at 11 centers expressed a need for the federal
government to establish standards for fusion center analyst training to help
ensure that analysts have similar skills. DHS and DOJ have initiated a
technical assistance program for fusion centers. They have also developed a
set of baseline capabilities, but the document is in draft as of September.
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on GAO-07-1241T.
For more information, contact Eileen Larence
at (202) 512-8777 or email@example.com.
IUnited States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Homeland Security: Preliminary Information on Federal Actions to Address Challenges Faced by State and Local Information Fusion Centers, text, September 27, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292623/m1/2/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.