A Mandate for Cooperation

By the President’s own words, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the people’s safety and security, which requires the “closest possible cooperation” among a wide variety of communities of interest (COIs) [1]. This cooperation requires continued expansion of the timely and effective sharing of intelligence and information about threats to the nation with those who need it. The ISE is critical to strengthen responsible information sharing across a variety of stakeholders. Established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 [2], the ISE consists of the people, projects, systems, and agencies that enable responsible information sharing across the national security enterprise. The NSISS was added to the ISE policy continuum in 2012, laying out several important goals.

The first NSISS goal is to drive collective action through collaboration and accountability, creating a need for rigorous assessments of capabilities and opportunities for improvement.

The next two NSISS goals are to improve information discovery and access through shared standards and to optimize mission effectiveness through shared services and interoperability. Reaching these goals also requires improved understandability of exchanged information and improved conformance to the shared standards.

Finally, the NSISS established a goal to strengthen information safeguarding through structural reform, policy, and technical solutions. Reaching this goal requires a strategically planned, agile, and coordinated framework and roadmap going forward. Information sharing capabilities must be operationalized at the speed of agreement among partners. But to avoid uncontrolled cost increases along the way, the supporting assets must be multi-use and must include lifecycle management and accommodation of legacy investments.

To achieve the goals set within the NSISS and further evolution of responsible information sharing, it is important that we leverage ongoing efforts to align underlying frameworks, standards, and architectures that support operating and information sharing capabilities with the mainstream IT industry and international standards efforts across both the public and private sectors. This has three impacts. First, it increases trust within the IT and telecommunications sectors through transparency, participation, and collaboration. Second, it reduces barriers and increases confidence among international partners, as the frameworks are accessible to them on their own terms. Finally, it provides a clear and consistent pathway for industry adoption and standards-based procurement approaches by public sector agencies to better assure consistent support for critical needs, and to support cost effective and efficient technology acquisition.

As a final consideration, we note that as cyber operations increase, there is an amplified need for a roadmap for building cyber capabilities. It should be a priority to coordinate the efforts of national and homeland security agencies with law enforcement and intelligence resources at all levels of government.