Report Card: DHS Publishes National Fusion Center Assessment

cyber security, electronic encryption, connected with flashing pointsFrom the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the 2017 National Network of Fusion Centers: Final Report is the culmination of self-reported data from the 2017 assessment from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (F/SLTT) entities, as well as homeland security and public safety organizations. Overall, fusion centers continue to make progress. As noted in the press release, DHS says the 2015 assessment acknowledged that the national network of fusion centers had reached maturity through achieving critical operational capabilities (COCs) and enabling capabilities (ECs). Since then, and including this year’s results, the assessment has focused more on developing and enhancing performance measures.

Be sure to check out the infographic on page two of the report, which provides a snapshot of national network information from more than 75 fusion centers, such as access to classified information, primary agency discipline, staff, and the fusion liaison officer (FLO) program. While the report does contain extensive sections that detail both the findings and recommendations, DHS also offers five key findings and four recommendations which summarize the assessment’s overarching data and conclusions:

Findings

  • The priorities of fusion centers continue to be counterterrorism, general crime, narcotics, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure issues.
  • There is a high level of turnover in fusion center leadership, specifically at the level of director.
  • Incidents and events that are supported by fusion centers, such as active shooters and natural disasters, are increasing.
  • Collaboration is happening. One-third of fusion centers’ analytic products are shared nationwide via the Homeland Security Information Network-Intelligence (HSIN-Intel) Community of Interest (COI).
  • When evaluated in 23 different performance measures, the national network of fusion centers has a stable baseline across the board, and is positively trending in more than half of the established performance measures.

Recommendations

  • DHS should improve alignment of DHS-provided services with fusion center needs and priorities. It seems more can be done to mitigate overlapping and the duplication of effort with other federal organizations.
  • Fusion centers should improve alignment of their partnerships, staffing, and products  in order to effectively expand their mission set. This process flows both ways, and fusion centers should also note how changes in mission may also require a realignment of resources.
  • DHS and fusion centers should collaborate to review the state and local restrictions that inhibit many fusion centers from sharing analytic products on HSIN-Intel. There are both opportunities and challenges with regard to both information sharing platforms and the processes as a whole.
  • DHS should continue to enhance the data collection process for the yearly assessment of fusion centers. For example, performance measures should be reviewed and updated, and requesting additional data collection would provide a base for further analysis.

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