Skinner: DHS struggles to coordinate intel efforts

The Homeland Security Department still faces challenges in defining and integrating its intelligence activities, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard L. Skinner.

Despite efforts by department officials to unify intelligence gathering and dissemination by its 21 component agencies, there remains a basic split between intelligence collected throughout the department for national security and activities to stem criminal activity, according to an unclassified version of the report, which is posted online.

Neither Secretary Michael Chertoff's Second Stage Review in 2005, nor the DHS Intelligence Enterprise Strategic Plan of January 2006 addressed which component agencies' intelligence activities should be integrated, the inspector general said.

Among the DHS personnel that generate intelligence are Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection agents, airport screeners, criminal investigators and immigration application adjudicators, the report said.

The second stage review "did not address the blurring definition of intelligence within the department," Skinner wrote. Until the antiterrorism and anti-criminal intelligence efforts are defined and differentiated, the department will face challenges in determining which activities and organizations to integrate, he wrote.

Furthermore, while the intelligence strategic plan developed a vision and strategy for intelligence within DHS and stated a commitment to integration to achieve those goals, it did not specify the component organizations that should be integrated, the IG reported.

The IG hopes his office will assist in the intelligence integration efforts by providing detailed information about activities in DHS field intelligence offices and by suggesting ways in which DHS management can take action.

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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