Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 19, 2005

GovExec on new info-sharing guidelines

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Christian Beckner on December 19, 2005

GovExec has an interesting story today which looks at new information-sharing guidelines put forward by the Administration, pursuant to Sec. 5 of this executive order in 2004, which highlighted the need for a clear roadmap for the “information sharing environment” in the war against terror:

President Bush on Monday unveiled details on the administration’s plan to more effectively share terrorism-related information among federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector.

Bush sent the details in the form of “guidelines” and “requirements” to the heads of government departments and agencies, and to lawmakers. The guidelines concern the role and scope of the authority of department chiefs. They also implement commonalities in technical standards and architectures to expedite the process of intra-government information sharing.

The changes aim to clarify how government officials should treat classified information as they share data. Additionally, the president’s order would designate specific officials within government departments to handle information-sharing activities.

In a letter to Congress, Bush explained that the details are part of his effort to build the “information-sharing environment,” or ISE, as required by a 2004 intelligence law.

The guidelines discussed in the article can be found here, and the President’s letter to Congress about them is available here.

The five top-level guidelines in the document are:

1. Define Common Standards for How Information is Acquired, Accessed, Shared, and Used Within the ISE
2. Develop a Common Framework for the Sharing of Information Between and Among Executive Departments and Agencies and State, Local, and Tribal Governments, Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Private Sector
3. Standardize Procedures for Sensitive But Unclassified Information
4. Facilitate Information Sharing Between Executive Departments and Agencies and Foreign Partners
5. Protect the Information Privacy Rights and Other Legal Rights of Americans

All of these are solid, common-sense steps; but success is very contingent on one other item mentioned in the memorandum:

Promoting a Culture of Information Sharing

For more on the Information Sharing Environment, see Program Manager John Russack’s Congressional testimony in July 2005 and November 2005, and the Second Markle Task Force report available here.

Update: Secrecy News discusses guideline #3 above in its bulletin today.

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