In general, a fusion center is a collaborative effort to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity. Recognizing that fusion centers are a mechanism for information sharing, the federal government--including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE), which has primary responsibility for governmentwide information sharing and is located in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence--is taking steps to partner with fusion centers. In response to Congressional request, GAO examined (1) the status and characteristics of fusion centers and (2) to what extent federal efforts help alleviate challenges the centers identified. GAO reviewed center-related documents and conducted interviews with officials from DHS, DOJ, and the PM-ISE, and conducted semistructured interviews with 58 state and local fusion centers. The results are not generalizable to the universe of fusion centers. Data are not available on the total number of local fusion centers.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|National Fusion Center Coordination Group (NFCCG)||1. To improve efforts to create a national network of fusion centers, the National Fusion Center Coordination Group (NFCCG), through the Information Sharing Council and the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE), should determine and articulate the federal government's role in, and whether it expects to provide resources to, fusion centers over the long-term to help ensure their sustainability. Particular emphasis should be placed on how best to sustain those fusion center functions that support a national information sharing capability as critical nodes of the ISE.|