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Information Sharing Official Tells Agencies to Pick up Pace

Photo: odni.gov
Photo: odni.gov

In the post-9/11 world, government agencies in charge of national security information have learned how to share data. But now the government’s top official in charge of efforts to increase sharing efficiency wants agencies to speed up the process.

Kshemendra Paul, program manager for the Information Sharing Environment, a presidentially appointed position recommended by the 9/11 Commission, spoke before the Center for Strategic and International Studies and offered his thoughts on information-sharing progress and how to build “beyond the foundation.”

“Our high calling is to support our mission partners – the federal, state and local, tribal and territorial agencies, and our partners internationally and in the private sector – to protect the American people and enhance our national security through the use of information,” Paul said, explaining the purpose of ISE, a relatively new and somewhat arcane agency.

“The ISE is … a somewhat abstract topic,” Paul acknowledged. “People have a hard time getting their heads around what exactly is that, ISE?”

By means of a “mental model,” Paul used a mosaic of interconnected stories to demonstrate information sharing and agency cooperation: a police officer using the National Crime Information Center database during a routine traffic stop; and a Coast Guard official using Department of Homeland Security networks—the same ones used in the event of other disasters, either man made or natural.

The scenarios demonstrate the challenges and the opportunities of connecting the dots in a world, where hoarding information poses serious national-security implications.

Paul’s scope of authority lies across five “core communities,” he said. Intelligence, defense, foreign affairs, law enforcement and homeland security, which enable “the effective sharing of terrorism-related information,” he added.

And since the national strategy for information sharing was mapped out, Paul continued, ISE has focused on bringing together federal agencies and local law enforcement to develop “a unified process around suspicious activity reporting, or SAR.”

And for the future, Paul issued a call to federal agencies for the 21st century, an age where, while information may want to be free, it also wants to be shared.

“To make the ISE work, we need to focus on data – sharing it, discovering it, protecting it, fusing it and reusing it,” he said.

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