Annual Fusion Center Assessment Recognizes Growth, Maturity, and Importance of FCLP

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KY Dept. of Homeland Security

The Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Fusion Center Leaders Program (FCLP) was identified as one of the top 10 federal support programs that enable fusion center leaders to fill gaps and increase performance in their organization’s capabilities, according to the annual   assessment final report released by the Department of Homeland Security on July 22.

The 2013 National Network of Fusion Center Final Report summarizes the capacity and performance of the nation’s fusion centers from August 1, 2012, through July 31, 2013. The results are an aggregation of information collected from 78 fusion centers and federal partners.

“This graduate-level program examines key questions and issues facing fusion center leaders and their role in homeland security, public safety, and the Information Sharing Environment (ISE),” the report said of the FCLP. “This program is designed to enhance critical thinking related to homeland security and public safety issues at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels.”

State and major urban area fusion centers are state and locally owned intelligence gathering and sharing operations. They bring together multiple agencies to analyze crime and threats in their area of responsibility. Their subsequent reports are used to help ensure their communities are safe and secure, as well as complement the federal intelligence enterprise.

CHDS launched the FCLP in 2010 with support from the DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis and other federal partners. The aim was to enhance the management capabilities across the national network of fusion centers and share best practices in information sharing and leadership.

“The partnership with NPS/CHDS to deliver the FCLP to fusion center leadership is a critical element in our overall effort to mature the National Network of Fusion Centers,” said Scott McAllister, Deputy Under Secretary Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis. “The FCLP provides a unique opportunity to think critically about the challenges and opportunities facing the National Network, while at the same time engaging in dialogue with course facilitators, which include fusion center stakeholders and customers, as well as congressional partners and representatives from the privacy and civil liberties advocacy community.”

FCLP differs from its peers in that it is not a training program, but a graduate-style educational program. The program content parallels the CHDS master’s degree graduate program in addressing emerging topics, but fine-tunes the education to the fusion center enterprise. CHDS has been able to leverage experts that include leading practitioners in domestic intelligence, privacy and civil liberties advocacy community members, NPS faculty, and even graduates of the CHDS program who return to instruct as subject matter experts.

“It’s important to note that fusion center leaders attribute CHDS/FCLP as the go-to place for expertise in managing intelligence and information sharing entities,” said NPS faculty member Robert Simeral, director of the FCLP.  “This recognition highlights the center’s expertise in intelligence, information sharing and collaboration.  FCLP has the unique ability to collaborate with subject matter experts, fusion center leaders and federal, state and local partners to provide a one of a kind academic experience.”

Based on assessment results, federal partners are better informed to prioritize their fusion center support and gap-mitigation activities, and education and training topped those priorities, the report said.

Among the conclusions stemming from the survey:

  • Fusion centers continue to achieve and sustain capabilities, with notable progress over the last three years in documenting and approving foundational plans, policies, or standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Concerns about turnover in key positions were raised in the 2012 Final Report. These concerns are steadily being addressed given the improvements seen during the assessment period; even further reductions in turnover are expected for the next 12 months.
  • Coordination and integration of field-based federal operations remains an area of emphasis for DHS and the FBI, along with other agencies, and many of the findings in this Final Report reflect the enhanced engagement of federal agencies with the National Network.
  • The results of the assessment demonstrate an overall decrease in federal funding, while selectively targeting federal investment into the National Network to generate tangible performance outcomes.

See the report: 2013 National Network of Fusion Centers Final Report.pdf.

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