Friday, April 9, 2010

Fusion Centers & FOIAs at center of DHS transparency plans


On the Blog @ Homeland Security, DHS unveiled its Open Government Plan in accordance with the White House’s Open Government Initiative. The department says its Open Government Plan doesn’t simplycheck a box or fulfill a requirement, but that would chart a clear course forward as we mature the department and work with our stakeholders and state, local, and tribal partners to develop the homeland security enterprise.”

DHS’ plan mandates a 15 percent reduction of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request backlogs per year at DHS to” enhance transparency of departmental records and communications.”

The plan also calls for the expansion of “Virtual USA,” a DHS information-sharing initiative, that links varied tools and technologies to improve communication between first responders during emergencies.

One effort by DHS highlighted in the plan is the creation and support of fusion centers with state and local governments, which are “critical assets in preventing crime and terrorism in communities across the country through two-way intelligence and information sharing between DHS and the rest of the federal government and our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners.”

One aspect of the plan that is noteworthy was DHS’ solicitation and use of public feedback in drafting the plan. DHS “plan[s] to continue this method of public engagement as we develop other initiatives and tools.”

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