GAO: Information sharing lags due to dearth of guidance

Continuing on the theme of "shouldn't we have made more progress since 9/11?," the General Accounting Office reported that federal policies for information-sharing against terrorism are fragmented and haphazardly applied

Continuing on the theme of "shouldn't we have made more progress since 9/11?," the General Accounting Office reported that federal policies for information-sharing against terrorism are fragmented and haphazardly applied, according to Washington Technology.

The problems reflect the fact that responsibility for information-sharing has been shifted among several agencies. The Dept. of Homeland Security took over from OMB in 2003 but has so far failed at the task.

In 2005, under the intelligence reform legislation, the newly created Office of the Director of National Intelligence took responsibility to create and oversee a new Information-Sharing Environment. However, that program has been stalled since at least January, when its program manager resigned, GAO said.

“More than four years after Sept. 11, the nation still lacks governmentwide policies and processes to help agencies integrate the myriad of ongoing efforts … to improve the sharing of terrorism-related information that is critical to protecting our homeland,” GAO wrote.

More than half the federal agencies reviewed by GAO have problems in sharing sensitive information. Agencies are making fragmented decisions in the absence of coherent policies.

“The lack of such recommended internal controls increases the risk that the designations will be misapplied,” GAO report said.

GAO recommends that the director of national intelligence and OMB review inventories of agencies’ sensitive but unclassified procedures, and develop a policy that consolidates the designations and makes them consistent. GAO also advises that internal controls be put into place for information-sharing.

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