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Leadership and Information Sharing

May 21, 2009
By H. Mosher

The Obama administration can take certain key steps to improve the ability to recognize and deal with national security threats, according to recommendations in "Nation at Risk," a report issued by The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. Jeff Smith of Arnold & Porter LLP, a steering committee member for the report, presented it yesterday at the AFCEA SOLUTIONS conference on information sharing.

"We are still vulnerable because we cannot connect the dots," Smith said. "The need-to-know principle is important, but it inhibits information sharing at a time when it's needed. Information sharing practices are still a hodgepodge. We need stronger leadership and stronger direction."

The task force had four recommendations to that end for the President and Congress: Recommit to information sharing, ensure information's accessibility and discoverability, develop government-wide privacy policies, and find ways to overcome bureaucratic change.

Smith observed that the recommendations were straightforward enough but required a commitment from leadership to implement. Of significant concern, he continued, was that "the sense of urgency on information sharing has diminished in the last seven years."

Download the report: "Nation at Risk" (pdf link)

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