Coast Guard info-sharing steams ahead

The Coast Guard is monitoring and sharing counterterrorism information at three new interagency centers and 35 new sector command centers it has set up at ports around the country, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

GAO reported generally positive findings on the Coast Guard's maritime information sharing, noting various improvements since its last report in April 2005.

The three interagency centers are operating around-the-clock at ports in Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Va., and San Diego. The centers receive continuous data from radar, sensors and cameras.

The information shared varies among the centers. In Charleston, the focus is on port security. The Justice Department plays the lead role, and four federal agencies and 16 state and local agencies are involved.

In Norfolk, the sharing is primarily between the Coast Guard and the Navy. In San Diego, the focus is not only on port security but also search and rescue, environmental response and drug interdiction. Two federal agencies and a single local agency are involved.

The Coast Guard and Navy are constructing two additional interagency command centers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Seattle. Both will be operational this year, GAO said.

The Coast Guard also intends to develop up to 40 of its own operational centers, called sector command centers, at ports. Its 35 centers are a primary conduit for daily collaboration and coordination between the Coast Guard and its port partner agencies.

The Coast Guard is implementing a common operating picture system at the sector command centers for maritime domain awareness.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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