State, locals want integrated threat databases

The federal government should continue to integrate the systems they use to distribute terrorist threat information to local law enforcement agencies and state homeland security offices, state and local officials told Congress this week.

Congress wants to make sure that there is a real-time, two-way flow of information between federal and state and local governments, said Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology, information policy, intergovernmental relations and the Census.

At a Tuesday hearing, state and local officials explored ways that federal agencies can improve collaboration with them to counter real or perceived terrorist threats.

Mark Zadra, chief of investigations with the Florida Office of Statewide Intelligence, said the federal government needs to continue to pull together the systems established to distribute threat information to make it easier for state and locals to compile such information.

"We don't need to get on the Internet and check 120 different sites. The federal government needs to help us integrate these systems," Zadra said.

State and local governments currently receive threat information through a number of systems, including the Homeland Security Information Network, Regional Information Sharing Systems program, the FBI's Law Enforcement Online and other networks.

Officials from the Homeland Security Department, FBI and the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, which analyzes threat information for federal agencies, also testified at the hearing.

DHS's Homeland Security Information Network currently provides sensitive but unclassified information to all 50 states, all 3,066 counties and some municipalities, said Patrick Hughes, assistant secretary for information analysis with DHS' Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate. In a few months, state and local recipients also will begin receiving classified information through the network, he said.

More than 75,000 law enforcement and criminal justice professionals from 7,000 agencies receive threat information through the Regional Information Sharing Systems program, said Gerald Lynch, executive director of the Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network and chairman of the RISS Directors Association.

The volume of information that federal agencies are passing to state and local homeland security and law enforcement officials is growing, but the amount varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Hughes said.

"Some places are more active than others. In New York City, for example, the amount is large, but they want more," he said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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