Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 24, 2006

Ohio creates a state terror analysis center

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Investigation & Enforcement,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 24, 2006

The Columbus Dispatch has a story today on a new effort in Ohio create a state “fusion center” for terror-related analysis and intelligence:

Today, the Ohio Department of Public Safety is unveiling a new center to identify possible terrorist activity by harnessing the brainpower of state agencies that regulate agriculture, traffic, waterways, public health and other areas.

The Ohio Strategic Analysis and Information Center is being launched with $290,000 in federal funding for equipment and $300,000 for personnel, although most of its 10 to 12 regular employees will continue to draw their paychecks from participating state agencies.

Rather than creating a large bureaucracy, the center will function as a sort of terrorism nerve center for state government, allowing agencies that rarely interact to swap intelligence that might stop terrorists, the head of the center said yesterday.

These kinds of fusion centers (which have been developed in a number of other states) are very sensible investments given their relatively low costs. Even if they don’t deliver actionable intelligence on a regular basis, they still provide a secondary benefit of building trust and linkages among the key state agencies, which could be beneficial in future emergency response situations.

But for spotting sophisticated terror threats, they are no substitute for an effective federal-led system that shares information derived from national intelligence assets with state and local officials. There have been a number of initiative to enhance this state and local info-sharing capacity (i.e. HSIN, JRIES), but these initiatives have been wracked by delay and dispute. Until a solid federal-led system is in place, these state fusion centers are a necessary, but probably insufficient, stopgap.

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3 Comments »

135

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 25, 2006 @ 7:36 am

The failure to reform the federal document and personnel security systems (e.g. revising long obsolete Executive Order 10450) is now directly impacting federal efforts to share information with the States. The fusion centers are a response to that failure and may be of some help but in reality are more likely to be ineffective. The “need to know” doctrine still in place in the National Security and Homeland Security arena still plagues the system and it is noted that the adoption of a “Need to Share” doctrine was pinpointed by the 9/11 Commission as a worthwhile initiative. When the 9/11 interviews and staff papers are fully released in 2009 the need for this change will be fully documented.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Los Angeles strengthens its intelligence fusion center

February 3, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

[...] The creation of state and local “intelligence fusion centers” seems to be a growing trend. I wrote last week about the state of Ohio’s decision to create a similar intelligence fusion center. I noted in that post that these types of centers are good investments if they can be stood up cheaply, but that they’re no substitute for an effective national system to share intelligence among federal, state and local officials. [...]

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » NGA surveys state homeland security directors

April 6, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

[...] The challenges of intelligence-sharing with the federal government, which has led many states to create their own intelligence fusion centers (see this old post for background). [...]

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