Key Issues > Terrorism-Related Information Sharing - High Risk Issue
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Terrorism-Related Information Sharing - High Risk Issue

Acts of terrorism on U.S. soil underscore the importance of the government's continued need to ensure that information on potential terrorist threats is shared in an effective and timely manner.

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Following the terrorist attacks of 2001, Congress and the executive branch took numerous actions aimed explicitly at establishing a range of new measures to strengthen the nation’s ability to identify, detect, and deter terrorism-related activities. For example, the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) was established in accordance with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Intelligence Reform Act), as amended, to facilitate the sharing of terrorism-related information. Figure 1 depicts the relationship between the various stakeholders and disciplines involved with the sharing and safeguarding of terrorism-related information through the ISE.

Figure 1: Elements of the Information Sharing Environment
Elements of the Information Sharing Environment

The Program Manager for the ISE (Program Manager) and key departments and agencies have made significant progress improving how intelligence on terrorism, homeland security, and law enforcement, as well as other information (collectively referred to as terrorism-related information) is shared among federal, state, local, tribal, international, and private sector partners.

Since 2013, the Program Manager and key departments and agencies have undertaken the following nine actions:

  • demonstrating that the leadership structure has the needed authority to leverage participating departments;
  • updating the vision for the ISE;
  • demonstrating that departments are defining incremental costs and funding;
  • continuing to identify technological capabilities and services that can be shared collaboratively;
  • demonstrating that initiatives within individual departments are, or will be, leveraged to benefit all stakeholders;
  • demonstrating that stakeholders generally agree with the strategy, plans, time frames, responsibilities, and activities for substantially achieving the ISE;
  • establishing an enterprise architecture management capability;
  • demonstrating that the federal government can show, or is more fully developing a set of metrics to measure the extent to which sharing has improved under the ISE; and
  • demonstrating that established milestones and time frames are being used as baselines to track and monitor progress.

Achieving these nine action items has addressed the concerns that placed this issue on the High Risk list.

While this demonstrates significant and important progress, sharing terrorism-related information remains a constantly evolving area that requires continued effort and attention from the Program Manager, departments, and agencies. Sharing terrorism-related information remains an area with some risk and continues to be vitally important to homeland security. It requires ongoing oversight as well as continuous improvement to identify and respond to changing threats and technology.
 

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  • portrait of Diana Maurer
    • Diana Maurer
    • Director, Homeland Security and Justice
    • maurerd@gao.gov
    • 202-512-9627