A new office opens in October at DHS that will manage civilian use of intelligence community and DoD assets. The National Applications Office is the post-9/11 incarnation of what used to be called the Civil Applications Committee that started in 1974 as the result of the President’s Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States (Rockefeller Commission).
Beginning next month, the National Applications Office (NAO) will serve as the â€œprincipal interfaceâ€ between the intelligence community and the Civil Applications, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement Domains.Â According to Bobby Block at the Wall Street Journal, it was a May 25 memo that empowered DHS through the NAO to gain access to some of the U.S.’s most powerful intelligence-gathering capabilities.Â Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell designated DHS as the executive agent and functional manager of the National Applications Office.Â It was this May 25 memo to Secretary Chertoff that assigned responsibility to DHS for:
â€¢ Enabling a wide spectrum of civil applications, homeland security, and law enforcement users greater access to the collection, analysis, and production skills and capabilities of the intelligence community;
â€¢ Enhancing intelligence and information sharing and dissemination to federal, state, and local government and law enforcement users;
â€¢ Educating customers about the capabilities and products of the intelligence community;
â€¢ Advocating future collection technology needs of the civil applications, homeland security and law enforcement customers in the intelligence community and Department of Defense forums; and
â€¢ Providing a forum for discussion of proper use oversight and management of new uses of classified information on behalf of domains, in addition to already established uses.
Last week, the House Homeland Security Committee convened a hearing about the NAO as noted here. Witnesses from DHS included Charlie Allen, Chief Intelligence Officer; Hugo Teufel, Chief Privacy Officer; and Dan Sutherland, the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer.
A National Applications Executive Committee will be established to provide interagency oversight. A DHS fact sheet issued on 15 August describes how the NAO will work with the “advice and support” of three customer domain working groups:
â€¢ Civil Applications Domain Working Group: This working group will continue the efforts of the Civil Application Committee that have been ongoing for more than 30 years, including scientific, geographic and environmental research.
â€¢ Homeland Security Domain Working Group: The â€œHomeland Security Domainâ€ includes those government agencies and activities involved in the prevention and mitigation of, preparation for, response to, and recovery from natural or man-made disasters, including terrorism, and other threats to the homeland. This domain can encompass the many operational and administrative components of DHS, as well as other federal, state, local, and tribal elements who partner with the department. Its work will complement the Civil Applications Working Group in areas like natural disaster response.
â€¢ Law Enforcement Domain Working Group: This working group includes federal, state, local, and tribal entities, and those activities which support both the enforcement of criminal and civil laws, and the other operational responsibilities and authorities of these entities.
UPDATE 9/11/07: For video stream and complete statements for the record by those testifying before the House Homeland Committee, click here.