ISE outlines expansion proposal in white paper
A white paper from the Information Sharing Environment program office proposes using legal authorities to expand the ISE approach toward information sharing to areas beyond counterterrorism.
The ISE uses an XML framework known as the National Information Exchange Model for the sharing of homeland security-related information among federal agencies and with state and local fusion centers. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 has the implicit requirement that federal agencies must organize their information management approaches "so that they contribute to the delivery of the ISE," the white paper (.pdf) states.
The ISE succeeds, and is well suited to expansion beyond homeland security information sharing, the paper adds, in part because it does not create a centralized database "but rather a horizontal, flexible environment" that connects existing systems.
Its expansion should be supported because having connected existing systems for homeland security purposes, participants in it "have no desire to fragment their missions artificially, using one information management approach for data labeled 'counterterrorism' and a different approach for other public safety and national security missions."
In fact, the white paper says distinctions between crime or terrorist or cybersecurity threat information are themselves artificial; decisionmakers draw on information to make classes of decisions rather than on classes of information to make decisions.
Expanding the ISE model to areas outside homeland security could be done through the Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act should committee members agree to it, the paper says.
Integration of ISE policies, standards and procedures through the Office of Management and Budget could expand the scope of the ISE, the paper adds.
Many legal issues thrown up by recalcitrant agencies to information sharing are not grounded in law at all, the paper also says. They may instead be issues of turf battles, policy choices or miscommunication. The very fact of a legal review by an agency to identify whether there exist legal barriers may create the perception that there is a legal problem, causing the effort to be abandoned.
In other cases, distrust by an originating agency that another agency will comply with actual legal requirements attached to the data can cause the originating agency to reject sharing. Sometimes an originating agency may simply feel that another agency's request for its data intrudes on its mission authorities and can't be legal since the requesting agency has different legal authorities.
"The ISE does not provide a magic bullet for resolving any of these issues, but it does represent a unique approach to encouraging resolution of them," the paper states.
- download the white paper, "A Legal And Policy Approach For Responsible Information Sharing: The Role Of The Information Sharing Environment (ISE)" (.pdf)