Duplicate systems viewed as challenge to sharing intelligence information

End users at San Diego conference say policies and practices stand in the way of effective collaboration.

SAN DIEGO -- While top officials of the Defense Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence strongly backed sharing of intelligence information here at the annual Department of Defense Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) Conference, end users said they found the effort plagued by duplicative development efforts and policies and practices that inhibited rather than encouraged information sharing.

Comment on this article in The Forum.Maj. Gen. John Custer, commander of the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., told a packed audience at panel session on Wednesday that he is "sick and tired of the fight between [the Defense Information Systems Agency] and DoDIIS" over development of software tools and systems. Their duplicative efforts, he said, waste "millions of dollars."

Several years ago DISA fielded its own Web-based collaboration tool suite for Defense users under its Net-Centeric Enterprise Services project after the intelligence community had developed and fielded its own collaboration system:the DoDIIS Trusted Workstation. The agency has started similar duplicative efforts for a multidomain system that partitions and separates information by classification.

DISA's new effort is backed the Joint Staff Command Control, Communications and Computer Systems Directorate (J6), while the Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate (J2) supports the intelligence community multidomain system. Custer said he cannot understand why DISA and J6 do not work with J2 to adapt already developed systems for wide use, an effort he would support. DISA did not respond immediately with a comment.

Terry Meyer, director of information management at Central Command, which has overall responsibility in the Middle East, said multiple networks in Iraq that serve coalition forces with varying levels of classifications inhibit information sharing. Nine networks support these forces, and Meyer said, "there is no enterprisewide cross-domain network" to foster information sharing.

While "three-quarters of the real estate in Afghanistan" falls under the command of trusted NATO allies such as the United Kingdom and Canada, Meyer said that due to existing policies, data from the organization's Secret networks cannot be imported into the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System,a global Top Secret intelligence system.

Meyer told the conference that, from his experience, if information is to be shared it will require a flattening of networks and a change in polices that will allow NATO data to be used in JWICAS.

Peter Chevere, a junior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that a lack of simple tools such as e-mail frustrate collaboration. He said DIA and the National Security Agency use different e-mail systems and even though he works in a secure online environment, NSA sometimes bounces back his e-mails due to perceived problems with headers.

Chevere said he has to use 15 passwords to access various DIA and other intelligence agency systems, a process that slows him and deprives the end user -- a soldier -- from receiving needed information and analysis quickly.

The intelligence community should develop a better analyst interface, Chevere said. While not endorsing any product, he said Google Earth was an excellent interface, allowing analysts to layer information and data onto an area of the globe of interest to that ultimate end user.

Gary Moore, a senior DIA analyst, said the intelligence community had to find a better way to tag and search for the relevant data and information quickly, and said Aamazon.com provided a good search model, quickly popping up the right hits on searches for example, biographies.