Journal: Agencies fail to make information sharing a priority

Government

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By Jill R. Aitoro 07/30/2009

The Obama administration needs to restructure how interagency information-sharing initiatives are funded and implemented to encourage compliance by agencies that currently place a higher priority on their own missions, government and industry experts told House lawmakers Thursday.

“Differing missions, overlapping turf conflicts, resource constraints, bureaucratic inertia and agency tunnel vision still exist and impede information sharing,” said Ambassador Thomas McNamara, program manager of the Information Sharing Environment, a post within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ISE was created by Congress in 2004 to facilitate the sharing of terrorism information across all levels of government and the private sector.

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The 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, being debated in the House, includes a section that would move the ISE program manager position from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to the Executive Office of the President, though President Obama stated that “such legislation is premature and could create undue administrative and managerial burdens by creating a completely new category of information for agencies to manage.”

+++++++Phi Beta Iota Editorial Comment+++++++

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) means well, but this entire challenge of information sharing, like the challenge of global coverage, is about mind-set and culture.  The secret world does not have it and never will.  They have to be instructed and mandated and ultimately forced to give up half of their bloated budget that produces, “at best,” four percent of what the President needs to know and next to nothing at all for all of the substantive Congressional jurisdictions and the Cabinet officers they oversee.

Unfortunately, the White House is theater, not leadership.  This White House also means well, but as long as Goldman Sachs is in charge of the US Treasury and the two-party tyranny is nominally in charge of Congress on behalf of its Wall Street masters, there will be no strategic, holistic, coherent, actionable guidance coming from the White House.  Despite the President’s campaign observation that a President has to be able to multi-task, this White House has no bench, no depth, no vision–they are a “one issue at a time” White House, and that issue is health care without reform–just moving the deck chairs.   The U.S. Government was bankrupt when the Obama-Biden Administration arrived, and it has run up trillions smore in unfunded future obligations that favor Wall Street (with thanks to Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut who specifically ensures that bonues would not be prohibited or constrained by the ill-advised legislation bailing out the bankers at the expense of the millions upon millions of taxpayers being evicted and foreclosed on by banks chartered by the public but not at all in public service.

Information-Sharing and Sense-Making are a Whole of Government matter.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should be more aggressive in its search for common solutions, and it can start with the three Opens: Open Source Software, Open Source Intelligence, and Open Spectrum.  OMB is aware of the building demand for an Open Source Agency (OSA) as it appears on page 413 of the 9-11 Commission Report, but as an adjunct agency to OMB, perhaps with diplomatic cachet so it can execute Information-Sharing Treaties and Agreements.

As Winston Churchil liked to say, “The Americans always do the right thing–they just try everything else first.”  Well, the DNI has tried everything else.  It’s time to get serious again.