Goal: Remedy Information Shortfalls
Remedying information sharing shortfalls was a principal recommendation of the 9/11 commission. Protecting the country from ever-evolving, transnational threats requires a strengthened homeland security enterprise that shares information across traditional organizational boundaries.
DHS is committed to ensuring that information is available to state and local law enforcement, giving those on the frontlines the tools they need to protect local communities. This approach is based on the simple premise that homeland security begins with hometown security.
Homeland Security is Hometown Security
In the ten years since 9/11, the federal government has strengthened the connection between collection and analysis on transnational organizations and threats. Terrorism-related information sharing across the intelligence community has greatly improved. Moreover, we have strengthened the ability to convey intelligence on threats to the homeland in a context that is useful and relevant to law enforcement and homeland security officials at the state and local level.
DHS, working closely with the FBI, has re-focused its information sharing and production efforts to better address the needs of state and local governments and private sector partners. In addition, DHS continues to improve and expand the information-sharing mechanisms by which officers are made aware of the threat picture, vulnerabilities, and what it means for their local communities.
Four Key Elements: Our Architecture to Share Information
Consistent with the direction the President has set for a robust information sharing environment, DHS continues to work with our homeland security partners to build our architecture for information sharing.
Four key elements of the homeland security information sharing architecture bring to bear the strength of the entire homeland security enterprise:
- National Network of Fusion Centers: Fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT) and private sector partners.
- Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative: Our efforts, in coordination with the Department of Justice, to implement a unified process for reporting, tracking, and accessing [SARs] in a manner that rigorously protects the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, as called for in the National Strategy for Information Sharing.
- National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS): The NTAS, replaces the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). This system will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector.
- If You See Something, Say Something: The Department’s nation-wide public awareness campaign –a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper state and local law enforcement authorities.
Federal and International Partnerships
Through close federal and international partnerships DHS works to ensure that resources and information are available to state and local law enforcement, giving those on the frontlines the tools they need to protect local communities.
- Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF): DHS and fusion centers work closely with JTTFs, which are led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and coordinate resources and expertise from across the federal government to investigate terrorism cases. DHS has provided hundreds of personnel to support the 104 JTTFs across the country. JTTFs have been critical to many recent terrorism investigations, including the arrests of Najibullah Zazi and Faisal Shahzad for terrorist plots to attack the New York transit system and Times Square, respectively.
- Preventing and Combating Serious Crime Agreements (PCSC): DHS, in collaboration with DOJ and the Department of State (DOS), has completed PCSC Agreements, or their equivalent with 35 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and two additional countries to share biographic and biometric information about potential terrorists and serious criminals.
- Agreements to Share Information on Lost and Stolen Passports: All 36 VWP countries have completed an exchange of diplomatic notes or an equivalent mechanism for the requirement to enter into an agreement to share information on lost and stolen passports with the United States through INTERPOL or other designated means.