Information sharing still tough, even within departments

The exchange of information between the Defense and Homeland Security departments is essential to national security, but the departments still are struggling to share information within their organizations, government officials said Oct. 22 at the Federal Information Assurance Conference at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The different military services are separated by the same shortcomings that keep police, fire and other emergency response agencies from communicating over radio systems, said Daniel Wolf, director of information assurance for the National Security Agency.

"The communications devices the military has been using in Operation Iraqi Freedom have similar limitations," Wolf said. "Critical information is not flowing."

Communications difficulties have persisted since the Defense Department was formed more than 50 years ago, Wolf said, and conditions within the newly created DHS are worse.

These departments are not alone, Wolf said. "The interoperability issues extend to every part of government," he said.

One key to enabling information sharing is common policies for information assurance. Jean Schaffer, NSA's director of the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme body, said DHS is considering implementing at least some Defense Department policies for its department-

wide enterprise system, now in the planning stages.

DHS probably will follow the Defense Department's lead in requiring Common Criteria certification for all information assurance technology, not just that installed on national security systems. The Defense Department implemented that policy last year.

The Defense Department is expected to release its policy for wireless networking,, by mid-November, said Linda Carr of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The policy originally was scheduled for release in June, but has been delayed during its approval process.

William Jackson is a reporter with Government Computer News. He can be reached at

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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