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Intelligence sharing strategy shifts from 'need to share' to 'responsibility to provide'

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks exposed the problems that result from tightly compartmentalized information, intelligence agencies have moved from a "need to know" culture to a "need to share" approach recommended by the 9/11 Commission and enshrined in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act.

Comment on this article in The Forum.Mike McConnell, director of National Intelligence, and Dale Meyerrose, associate director of National Intelligence and chief information officer, took the "need to share" culture a step further Friday with the public release of the U.S. Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy, which is built around what McConnell described as a "responsibility to provide" mind-set.

Meyerrose said basing the intelligence sharing strategy on development of a "responsibility to provide" culture would enable the intelligence community to unlock data "from a fragmented information technology infrastructure spanning multiple intelligence agencies and make it readily discoverable and accessible from the earliest point at which an analyst can add value."

The information-sharing model will rely on attribute-based access and tagged data with built-in security to create a trusted collaboration environment, Meyerrose said. But the new sharing strategy report emphasized that "information sharing is a behavior and not a technology."

At the same time, the report said, the intelligence community must develop an advanced information discovery and retrieval system (the digital version of a library card catalog) based on common metadata tagging standards to support discovery, search and retrieval, and "universal discovery" processes, standards and tools, and integration of intelligence networks.

This bold approach raises a number of questions, the sharing strategy report said, including whether laws or regulations must be changed to support the effort and whether enough funds have been appropriated to support the initiative.

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