The Department of Homeland Security’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review details the DHS multi-year strategy. “The Review also recognizes the responsibility the Department shares with hundreds of thousands of people across the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, and other nongovernmental organizations, and provides a path forward for engaging in public-private partnerships.”
Several key DHS initiatives and components contribute directly to the effectiveness of the ISE.
National SAR Initiative (NSI)
“The National SAR Initiative (NSI) is a partnership among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement that establishes a national capacity for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing suspicious activity reports (SAR) …” The ISE-SAR Functional Standard v. 1.5 defines suspicious activity as “observed behavior reasonably indicative of preoperational planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity.” “The NSI is a standardized process-including stakeholder outreach, privacy protections, training, and facilitation of technology-for identifying and reporting suspicious activity in jurisdictions across the country and also serves as the unified focal point for sharing SAR information.”
DHS is currently the executive agent for this collaborative effort and partners closely with the FBI, the PM-ISE, and the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The NSI considers part of its core mission to rigorously protect the privacy and civil liberties of individuals. The NSI also works closely with the National Network of Fusion Centers.
NSI coordinates and manages the development and deployment of its technology, training, and outreach. The NSI has released a line of online SAR training for a variety of audiences: line officers, corrections, fire, emergency medical services, emergency management, public safety telecommunications, maritime, and the private sector. NSI also delivers a more intensive on-site training for a variety of audiences.
National Network of State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers
Fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local governmental entities. The Federal Government, including DHS, “does not dictate where fusion centers should be built and maintained, nor does it designate fusion centers. However, the Federal Government has a shared responsibility with state and local governments to promote the establishment of a national network of fusion centers to facilitate effective information sharing. Since 2001, the Federal Government has provided significant grant funding, training, technical assistance, exercise support, federal personnel, and access to federal information and networks to support fusion centers.”
Following a set of shared resource allocation criteria, DHS provides significant funding to states in support of the network as well as in-kind support, including deployed federal personnel and technology and information sharing systems. Grants include criteria such as the requirement that every fusion center grant recipient have a policy in place for the protection of privacy and civil liberties.
National Protection and Programs Directorate
The DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, Office of Infrastructure Protection “leads and coordinates national programs and policies on critical infrastructure security and resilience and has established strong partnerships across government and the private sector.”
Two Intelligence Community Members are DHS Components
Within the DHS, two entities are also members of the Intelligence Community. The U.S. Coast Guard, one of the 22 agencies incorporated into the newly formed Department, maintained an intelligence function. In addition, a DHS division, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, also is a member of the IC.