Enemies Work to Vault Threat Barriers

January 26, 2018
By Beverly Cooper

Partnerships are key to developing stronger protections.

Most of society recognizes that an accelerated threat environment, driven by continuous technological advances, is a danger to national and global security. Enemies are regularly overcoming the defensive barriers of organizations and individuals alike, causing crises on a regular basis. The problems are too prolific for any one sector to solve on its own, but public-private partnerships provide an opportunity for leveraging the strengths of all homeland security stakeholders, leading to stronger protection. Such partnerships not only achieve efficiencies, but they also enhance technological impacts to improve the homeland security posture, according to experts on the AFCEA Homeland Security Committee.

A proliferation of novel partnerships has already evolved, bringing concerned parties and their resources together. Public-private sector partnerships between government, industry and academia are being nourished as part of a unity of effort initiative. All levels of government and federally funded research and development centers and laboratories, with the support of private sector partners, are sharing threat-related information and lessons learned. Information also is being shared formally and informally across agencies, regions and councils to coordinate and distribute threat-related advisories and materials designed to safeguard critical sectors and infrastructure.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components are carrying out wide-ranging partnership initiatives with other government entities as well. U.S. Customs Border and Protection is leveraging Department of Defense equipment and lessons learned to reinforce border situational awareness and the detection of incursion events. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is collaborating with interagency government entities to integrate person-centric immigration and enforcement-related encounter data.

While the advancement of a variety of partnership models is helpful, roadblocks still impede the vital work they are attempting to carry out. The challenges include regulatory hurdles and policy constraints, technology gaps, political changes and inflexible and cumbersome contracts and procurement requirements. Adding to the barriers, the Department of Justice, FBI and state and local homeland security professionals still lack a true and integrated repository for information sharing across the homeland security spectrum.

The Homeland Security Committees members, acknowledging the importance of solid partnerships, collaborated to offer three recommendations that they believe will be critical to continued progress.

First, DHS networks should increase and improve the quality of information sharing related to mission needs and acquisition/procurement opportunities.

In addition, industry, government and academia should increase partnerships and teaming agreements across communities in mission spaces that bring together cross-industry and cross-domain stakeholders.

And finally, to address the technological gaps in the current environment, DHS organizations should continue enabling the right connections between industry and government.

More details on each of these recommendations, along with the full report of the committee, are available in “The Importance of Partnerships to Securing the Homeland."

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