Key Issues > Terrorism-Related Information Sharing
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Terrorism-Related Information Sharing

Recent planned and attempted 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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The sharing of terrorism-related information has been designated as high risk because the government faces formidable challenges in analyzing and disseminating this information in a timely, accurate, and useful manner. Federal agencies have created new organizations, systems, partnerships, tools, and standards, among other things, to better share this information with each other and with state, local, tribal, and private security partners, but still have work to do to close gaps in sharing. Federal agencies can reduce risk on terrorism-related information sharing by focusing on several areas:

  • Defining, developing, and implementing the remaining capabilities and technologies needed for sharing—such as developing automated means to determine who is authorized to access data—and leveraging successful initiatives that individual agencies implement for the benefit of all homeland security partners.
  • Developing cost estimates for needed programs and initiatives, which would allow decision makers to plan for and prioritize future investments.
  • Building information-sharing initiatives into agencies’ enterprise architectures to help align technology investments as a means to promote sharing.
  • Establishing a system of accountability to track progress and measure the information-sharing and homeland security benefits achieved to inform future investments, including ways to measure the benefits the government is deriving from multimillion-dollar federal investments in state and local fusion centers—state and local entities, supported in part with federal funding and personnel, that coordinate and collaborate with respect to sharing information related to criminal and terrorist activity and that fill information sharing gaps the federal government could not address.
  • Assessing the impacts of the government’s use of the terrorist watchlist to screen individuals for threats on agencies, their resources, and the traveling public to ensure that use of the list is working effectively and as intended, and that any needed adjustments are implemented.

 

Figure 1: Overview of the Terrorist Watchlist Nominations Process

 

Overview of the Watchlist Nominations Process

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  • portrait of Eileen R. Larence
    • Eileen R. Larence
    • Director, Homeland Security and Justice
    • larencee@gao.gov
    • 202-512-6510