A Summary of Fusion Centers: Core Issues and Options for Congress

A Summary of Fusion Centers:
Core Issues and Options for Congress
September 19, 2007
Todd Masse
Specialist in Domestic Intelligence and Counterterrorism
Domestic Social Policy Division
John Rollins
Specialist in Terrorism and International Crime
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

A Summary of Fusion Centers:
Core Issues and Options for Congress
This report summarizes the main points of CRS Report RL34070, Fusion
Centers: Issues and Options for Congress, by Todd Masse, Siobhan O’Neil, and John
Rollins. It highlights the value proposition of such centers, as well as the obstacles
and risks they face. All of the information provided herein is provided in greater
detail in the original report, which will be updated as necessary.
Although elements of the information and intelligence fusion function were
conducted prior to 9/11, often at state police criminal intelligence bureaus, the events
of 9/11 provided the primary catalyst for the formal establishment of more than 40
state, local, and regional fusion centers across the country. The value proposition for
fusion centers is that by integrating various streams of information and intelligence,
including that flowing from the federal government, state, local, and tribal
governments, as well as the private sector, a more accurate picture of risks to people,
economic infrastructure, and communities can be developed and translated into
protective action. The ultimate goal of fusion is to prevent man-made (terrorist)
attacks and to respond to natural disasters and man-made threats quickly and
efficiently should they occur. Fusion centers are state-created entities largely
financed and staffed by the states, and there is no one “model” for how a center
should be structured. State and local law enforcement and criminal intelligence seem
to be at the core of many of the centers. While many of the centers have prevention
of attacks as a high priority, little “true fusion” — analysis of disparate data sources,
identification of intelligence gaps, and pro-active collection of intelligence against
those gaps which could contribute to prevention — is occurring.

In troduction ......................................................1
Background ......................................................1
Fusion Center Value Proposition......................................3
Potential Risks for Fusion Centers.....................................4
Potential Risk: Underlying Philosophy.............................4
Potential Risk: Civil Liberties Concerns or Violations.................5
Potential Risk: Time...........................................7
Potential Risk: Funding.........................................7
Fusion Center Landscape............................................8
Creation, Ownership, and Unresolved Issues........................8
Fusion Center Legal Authority....................................9
Fusion Center Roles and Responsibilities...........................9
Staffing .....................................................10
Budgets ....................................................11
Access to Intelligence/Information...............................11
Successful Fusion.................................................12
Federalism and the Federal Role in Fusion Centers......................12
Fusion Center Challenges and Potential Options for Congress..............14
Options for Congress..............................................15
Tier I: National Strategy and Sustainable Resources..................15
Option 1: Draft a National Fusion Center Strategy...............15
Option 2: Answer the Sustainment Funding Question............16
Tier II: Creating a True Trusted Partnership........................17
Option 1: Training........................................17
Option 2: Build Additional Linkages to the Federal
Intelligence Community................................18
Option 3: Consider Structural Issues..........................19
Option 4: Enhance Information Access and Management..........19
List of Figures
Appendix A: Map of Current and Planned Fusion Centers.................20

A Summary of Fusion Centers:
Core Issues and Options for Congress
This report summarizes the main points of CRS Report RL34070, Fusion
Centers: Issues and Options for Congress, by Todd Masse, Siobhan O’Neil, and John
Rollins. It highlights the value proposition of such centers, as well as the obstacles
and risks they face. All of the information provided herein is provided in greater
detail in the original report, which will be updated as necessary.
The creation of post-9/11 intelligence/information1 fusion centers2 does not
represent a totally new concept, but suggests an extension of pre-9/11 state and local
law enforcement intelligence activities. Most state police/bureau of investigation
agencies have run intelligence or analytic units for decades. Many of the fusion
centers examined for this report were the outgrowth of those units, prompting some
to refer to fusion centers as “state police intelligence units on steroids.”

1 Intelligence is information to which value has been added through analysis and is collected
in response to the needs of policymakers. At the most generic level, there are two types of
intelligence: raw and finished. Raw intelligence is that which has not been vetted, verified
and validated. Finished intelligence, which includes information of unknown credibility,
has been through an analytical process which has resulted in conclusions and judgments
being made. As opposed to evidence, which is generally gathered in support of a
prosecution, intelligence is gathered to inform policymakers and those individuals
responsible for taking actions, including national security, law enforcement and public
safety officials. While intelligence may occasionally be introduced into legal proceedings,
generally it is not.
2 The Fusion Center Guidelines define a fusion center as “a collaborative effort of two or
more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal
of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and
terrorist activity.” Fusion Center Guidelines: Developing and Sharing Information and
Intelligence in a New Era, August 2006, available at [http://it.ojp.gov/documents/
fusion_center_guidelines_law_enforcement.pdf]. Some apply this definition broadly to
include any multi-jurisdictional anti-crime or response effort that may utilize intelligence
and/or information, to include federally-owned and operated collaborative efforts, like
Federal Bureau of Investigation - led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) or High Intensity
Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The authors, however, limit their discussion of fusion
centers to those 40+ largely state and regional entities created to enhance the ability of the
jurisdiction to prevent, mitigate, and in some cases, respond and recover, from man-made
threats, attacks, and natural disasters.

Conceptually, fusion centers differ from their predecessors in that they are intended
to broaden sources of data for analysis and integration beyond criminal intelligence,
to include federal intelligence as well as public and private sector data. Furthermore,
fusion centers broaden the scope of state and local analysis to include homeland
security and counterterrorism issues.
Despite being an expansion of existing sub-federal intelligence/information
activities, fusion centers represent a fundamental change in the philosophy toward
homeland defense and law enforcement. The rise of fusion centers is representative
of a recognition that non-traditional actors — state and local law enforcement and
public safety agencies — have an important role to play in homeland defense and
security. In addition, there has been a shift towards a more proactive approach to law
enforcement in the United States.
Numerous national strategies have assessed the primary threat to U.S. national
security as terrorism, both at home and abroad.3 Indeed, the National Strategy on
Homeland Security provides that “the American People and way of life are the
primary targets of our [terrorist] enemy and our highest protection priority.”4 The
means for combating this threat are broad and encompass all elements of national
power, to include non-traditional sectors. From a law enforcement perspective, it has
been argued that state and regional intelligence fusion centers, particularly when
networked together nationally, represent a proactive tool to be used to fight a global
jihadist adversary which has both centralized and decentralized elements. This
network of fusion centers is envisioned as a central node in sharing terrorism,
homeland security, and law enforcement information with state, local, regional, and
tribal law enforcement and security officials.5

3 For example, the National Strategy on Counterterrorism states that “The paradigm for
combating terrorism now involves the application of all elements of our national power and
influence. Not only do we employ military power, we use diplomatic, financial, intelligence,
and law enforcement activities to protect the Homeland and extend our defenses, disrupt
terrorist operations, and deprive our enemies of what they need to operate and survive.” See
The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 2006, p. 1. According to the
Director of National Intelligence (DNI), “Terrorist threats to the Homeland, to our national
security interests, and to our allies remain the pre-eminent challenge to the Intelligence
Community....” See “Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence,”
Testimony of Ambassador John D. Negroponte, Before the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, January 11, 2007, p. 2.
4 See The National Strategy on Homeland Security, July 2002, p. 7.
5 This vision is promoted by the Program Manager - Information Sharing Environment (PM -
ISE), which was created by Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004,
Section 1016 and was placed under the administration of the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence. The functions, but not necessarily the authorities, of the ISE
transcend the boundaries of the federal intelligence and law enforcement communities. See
Chapter Seven “Sharing with Partners Outside the Federal Government,” in Information
Sharing Environment Implementation Plan, Office of the Director of National Intelligence,
November 2006.

Fusion Center Value Proposition
Conceptually, the argument that fusion centers represent a vital part of our
nation’s homeland security relies on at least four presumptions:
!Intelligence, and the intelligence process, plays a vital role in
preventing terrorist attacks.
!It is essential to fuse a broader range of data, including non-
traditional source data, to create a more comprehensive threat
!State, local, and tribal law enforcement and public sector agencies
are in a unique position to make observations and collect
information that may be central to the type of threat assessment
referenced above.
!Having fusion activities take place at the sub-federal level can
benefit state and local communities, and possibly have national
benefits as well.
Even if one accepts these four presumptions, important questions arise regarding
the current and/or potential efficacy of fusion centers. Given the fractured
development of grassroots fusion centers around the country, and the broad nature
of federal guidelines on the subject, there appears to be no “one-size-fits-all”
structural or operational model for fusion centers. In order to determine the
development and utility of fusion centers, the following common themes, and more
importantly, common questions, should be examined:
!Do fusion centers solve the pre-9/11 information sharing problems,
and as such, make Americans safer?
!Can fusion centers work if they aren’t part of an integrated
philosophy of intelligence and security?
!Who benefits from fusion centers? Who should staff, fund, and
oversee them? What role, if any, should fusion centers play in the
Intelligence Community (IC)? What role should federal agencies
play in fusion centers, to include funding? Do fusion centers
represent a shift in the security v. civil liberties pendulum? How
active and pro-active, if at all, should fusion centers be in the
collection of intelligence that is not directly tied to a specific and
identifiable criminal act?
!Is some basic level of common standards necessary in order for
fusion centers to offer a national benefit? Moreover, does the
federal government have an integrated national fusion center
strategy? What concrete results does the federal government expect
from fusion centers? How is the federal government assessing

fusion center performance and do federal funds align with these
expectations and possible mission shortcomings?
!Is the current configuration of 40 plus fusion centers, with, in some
cases, several operating within one state, the most efficient
organizational structure?
!Is the current approach to creating, authorizing, funding, and
supporting fusion centers sustainable? What are the risks to the
fusion center concept and how have those risks been specifically
weighed and balanced against the stated goals of fusion center
Potential Risks for Fusion Centers
There are several potential risks associated with fusion center development.
One risk focuses on the hazards associated with creating fusion centers without the
requisite philosophical and organizational changes necessary within the intelligence
and law enforcement communities to sustain the work of the centers. The other risks
focus on factors that could ultimately diminish political and popular support for
fusion centers, and ultimately result in their demise or marginalized contribution to
the national homeland security mission.
Potential Risk: Underlying Philosophy
Some might argue that the rise of state and regional fusion centers may have
been premature — that is, the establishment of these entities in the absence of a
common understanding of the underlying discipline. Creating a fusion center is a
tangible action that seeks to enhance state and/or regional coordination and
cooperation to prevent and mitigate, and in some cases, respond and recover from,
homeland security threats. However, others ask, if fusion center development occurs
devoid of a more fundamental transformation, is any real progress made? Another
philosophical concern stems from the different conceptions of intelligence among the
intelligence and law enforcement communities. In the absence of a common
understanding about what constitutes intelligence, fusion center development and
progress may be impeded. Ultimately, without a common framework among
disparate fusion centers and other homeland security agencies, it is possible that
benefits of the their efforts will remain narrow, rather than having a national impact.
While fusion center guidelines represent a movement to provide fusion centers with
a common framework, and were generally well-received by the centers, arguably, the

2006 Fusion Center Guidelines have the following limitations: (1) they are voluntary,

(2) the philosophy outlined in them is generic and does not translate theory into
practice, and (3) they are oriented toward the mechanics of fusion center

Potential Risk: Civil Liberties Concerns or Violations
The essence of fusion, as outlined above, is the integration and analysis of
existing streams of information and intelligence for actionable public policy ends —
be they counterterrorism, broader counter-crime issues, or natural disaster response.
Embedded in the fusion process is the assumption that the end product of the fusion
process can lead to a more targeted collection of new intelligence, to include private
sector data, which can help to prevent crime. It could be argued that through a more
pro-active and targeted intelligence process, one that has as its starting point an
intelligence gap, or unknown about a particular threat, it is possible that sophisticated
criminal groups could be undermined. However, the potential fusion center use of
private sector data, the adoption of a more proactive approach, and the collection of
intelligence by fusion center staff and partners has led to questions about possible
civil liberties abuses.
Arguments against fusion centers often center around the idea that such centers
are essentially pre-emptive law enforcement — that intelligence gathered in the
absence of a criminal predicate is unlawfully gathered intelligence. Some might
argue that the further law enforcement, public safety and private sector
representatives get away from a criminal predicate, the greater the chances that civil
liberties may be violated. Furthermore, it could be argued that one of the risks to the
fusion center concept is that individuals who do not necessarily have the appropriate
law enforcement or broader intelligence training will engage in intelligence collection
that is not supported by law.6 The concern is to what extent, if at all, First
Amendment protected activities may be jeopardized by fusion center activities.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “We’re setting up
essentially a domestic intelligence agency, and we’re doing it without having a full
debate about the risks to privacy and civil liberties.”7 Furthermore, the ACLU is also
concerned with having the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) perform a
coordinating role at the federal level with respect to these centers. “We are granting
extraordinary powers to one agency, without adequate transparency or safeguards,
that hasn’t shown Congress that it’s ready for the job.”8
Most of the fusion center representatives interviewed for this report appeared
to be aware of the need to be respectful of privacy and civil liberties as a result of 28
CFR Part 23, the Fusion Center Guidelines,9 the National Criminal Intelligence

6 Some might argue that the entire concept for fusion centers, particularly those aspects
involving the incorporation of private sector data that may not be accurate or based on any
criminal predicate is fundamentally flawed. If there is little legal recourse for citizens to
challenge information related to them that resides in commercially available databases, and
such information is included in fusion center operations, privacy rights and civil liberties
could be undermined.
7 See Shane Harris, “Issues and Ideas — Fusion Centers Raise a Fuss,” in National Journal,
February 10, 2007.
8 Ibid.
9 One of the prominent Fusion Center Guidelines recommends fusion centers “Develop,

Sharing Plan (NCISP),10 DHS/Department of Justice (DOJ)-sponsored fusion center
conferences, and DHS — provided Technical Assistance Training, as well as
interactions with peer fusion centers. Several fusion centers had, or were in the
process of creating, a governance board, to serve an oversight function, especially on
civil liberty concerns. In one case, a fusion center cited concern for civil liberties as
the reason it had specifically chosen a former judge to sit on its governing board.
Many centers also claim to have privacy policies, a couple of which were reviewed
by local ACLU or other civil liberties organization representatives.11 However, few
of the centers had aggressive outreach programs to explain to the public the type of
intelligence activities their centers could and could not engage in.
This report is not meant to provide an authoritative legal interpretation of related
law. Due to disparate state laws authorizing fusion center or criminal intelligence
activities, for purposes of criminal intelligence systems, most fusion centers operate
under federal regulations, in addition to any applicable state policies, laws or
regulations.12 At the federal level, the authorities which guide the FBI in collection
of intelligence are the Attorney General’s Guidelines for FBI National Security
Investigations and Foreign Intelligence Collection.13 At the state and local levels,
if there is any analogue to the Attorney General’s guidelines for multi-jurisdictional
criminal intelligence systems, it is 28 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) -(Judicial
Administration), Chapter 1 (Department of Justice), Part 23 (criminal intelligence
systems operating policies). Many centers cite 28 CFR, Part 23 as the guiding legal
mechanism for their criminal intelligence operations. By its terms, 28 CFR, Part 23,
applies to “all criminal intelligence systems operating through support under the
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended.” From the
perspective of intelligence collection, the 28 CFR, Part 23 standard is reasonable
suspicion. One of the operating principles of 28 CFR, Part 23 is that “A project shall
collect and maintain criminal intelligence information concerning an individual only

9 (...continued)
publish, and adhere to a privacy and civil rights policy.” See U.S. Department of Homeland
Security & U.S. Department of Justice, Fusion Center Guidelines: Developing and Sharing
Information and Intelligence in a New Era, available at [http://it.ojp.gov/documents/
fusion_center_guidelines_law_enforcement.pdf], p. 49.
10 Available at [http://www.it.ojp.gov/topic.jsp?topic_id=93].
11 Interview with state fusion center representative, April 23, 2007.
12 See e.g. Burns Ind. Code Ann. §§5-2-4-1, 10-19-10-1 through 10-1-10-4; Va. Code Ann
§§ 52-47, 44-146.22 note.
13 The Guidelines stipulate three levels of investigation into threats – threat assessments,
preliminary investigation, and full field investigation; each level has certain legal thresholds
and investigative tools attached to it. Depending on available information, these
investigative tools and techniques range from non-intrusive (open source collection) to
intrusive (electronic surveillance). The least intrusive of all levels of investigation is the
threat assessment, which allows the FBI to pro-actively “ ... use available information to
identify terrorist threats and activities ... when the FBI receives information or an allegation
about possible terrorist activity, and the matter can be checked out promptly through
relatively non-intrusive techniques.” See U.S. Department of Justice, Fact Sheet, Attorney
General’s Guidelines for FBI National Security Investigations and Foreign Intelligence
Collection, November 3, 2003, pp. 2-3.

if there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal conduct or
activity and the information is relevant to that criminal conduct or activity.”14
Reasonable Suspicion or Criminal Predicate is established when information
exists which established sufficient facts to give a trained law enforcement or
criminal investigative agency officer, investigator, or employee a basis to believe
that there is a reasonable possibility that an individuals or organization is15
involved in a definable criminal activity or enterprise.
The question of how to balance civil liberties with security remains an open
issue Congress and the country often weighs. The balancing is, arguably, a moving
target driven by the country’s collective sense of security and safety.
Potential Risk: Time
Some homeland security observers suggest that the rush to establish and
enhance state fusion centers is a post-9/11 reaction and that over time some of the
centers may dissolve. It could be argued that in the absence of another terrorist attack
or catastrophic natural disaster, over the course of the next 5 to 10 years, state and
regional fusion centers may be eliminated and/or replaced by regional fusion
organizations. The state fusion regional representation organizations may be an
entity to facilitate future center consolidation efforts. Issues that may lead to state
and regional fusion center consolidation into regional organizations include
!perceived lack of need by state leaders,
!state and federal financial constraints,
!duplication of effort without showing tangible products and services
within a given center, and
!reduction of risks to a given geographic location.
Alternatively, if there are additional terrorist attacks or natural disasters in the near
future and fusion centers can demonstrate their tangible value by serving as
proactive, analytic and/or operational information/intelligence hubs, it is plausible
that substantial additional federal, state, and local funds may flow to these centers.
Potential Risk: Funding
Related to the potential time risk is a possible funding risk. That is, if the
United States is not the target of a successful terrorist attack, homeland security
funding, arguably, may decrease. If overall federal funding levels for homeland
security decrease, it is possible that there will be some level of decrease in Homeland

14 See 28 CFR, Part 23, Section 23.20 (a) and (c) (Operating Principles).
15 Ibid.

Security Grant Program (HSGP)16 funding. Such a decrease might force states to re-
prioritize funds for those programs deemed the most critical to their jurisdiction.
Specific federal programs that fund and/or support fusion centers (i.e., DHS and FBI
detailee programs) could potentially also suffer under funding cuts. It is unclear how
fusion centers would fare in such a situation. It is likely that the fate of fusion centers
would differ drastically from state to state, depending on a range of factors, to
include, their level of maturity, buy-in from other agency partners, their resource
needs, and noted successes, balanced with other critical issues and programs within
the jurisdiction.
Fusion Center Landscape
Creation, Ownership, and Unresolved Issues
Today, there are over 40 intelligence/information fusion centers across the
country (see Appendix A). Fusion Centers are overwhelmingly a post-9/11
phenomena. The majority of centers are state-owned or operated, although there are
several (less than 20% of all fusion centers) in large urban centers, usually Urban
Area Security Initiative (UASI)17 areas. Most of the state-wide fusion centers are the
outgrowth of the state’s police or investigative agency’s existing intelligence
resources. Several states have more than one fusion center. The number of fusion
centers, as variously defined, within a single state ranges from two to eight. In some
states, these fusion centers appear to work well together, or at least have taken steps
to enhance their working relationship. In other cases there appears to be friction and
potentially even duplication of mission and competition between the centers.

16 Homeland Security Grant Program is comprised of five interconnected grant programs:
1) State Homeland Security Program, 2) Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), 3) the Law
Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), 4) the Metropolitan Medical
Response System (MMRS), and 5) the Citizens Corps Program (CCP). See DHS, Office of
Grants and Training, FY 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program — Program Guidance
and Application Kit, January 2007, p. 1.
17 The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant Program is intended to provide “...
grants to assist high-risk urban areas in preventing, preparing for, protecting against, and
responding to acts of terrorism.” Areas are deemed high-risk according to numerous factors,
including “its relatively threat, vulnerability, and consequences from acts of terrorism,
including consideration of...” population, population density, history of threats, degree of
threat, vulnerability and consequence related to critical infrastructure, current threat
assessments, location near an international border, as well as other factors. See
“Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,” P.L. 110-53,
sections 2003 and 2007. For more information on DHS risk assessment methods, see CRS
Report RL33858, The Department of Homeland Security’s Risk Assessment Methodology:
Evolution, Issues, and Options for Congress, by Todd Masse, John Rollins, and Siobhan

Fusion Center Legal Authority
The majority of fusion centers do not operate under distinct or recognized legal
authority. Currently, the legal authorities supporting fusion centers range from
nonexistent, to memorandums of agreement by the partnering agencies, and in one
case a state statute which defines the center and its responsibilities. In most cases this
is due to the fact that fusion centers are the outgrowth of an existing organization,
and as such, the centers often operate as an extension of the parent entity and operate
under its existing legal authority.
Fusion Center Roles and Responsibilities
Many of the “first-wave” centers, those created soon after 9/11, were initially
solely focused on counterterrorism. Today, less than 15% of the fusion centers
interviewed for this report18 described their mission as solely counterterrorism. Since
their inception, many counterterrorism-focused fusion centers have expanded their
mission to include all-crimes and/or all-hazards. Sometimes this shift is official, for
others it is de facto and reflected in the day-to-day operations of the center, but not
in official documentation. This shift toward an all-crimes and/or all-hazards focus
can be explained by several factors, to include desire to conform to what they see as
a national trend, the need for local and non-law enforcement buy-in, and the need for
sustainable resources.
Approximately 40% of fusion centers interviewed for this report describe their
center’s mission as “all-crimes.” However, some fusion centers are concerned with
any crime, large or small, petty or violent, while others are focused on large-scale,
organized, and destabilizing crimes, to include the illicit drug trade, gangs, terrorism,
and organized crime, which one center deemed a “homeland security focus.”
A little more than 40% of fusion centers interviewed for this report describe
their center as “all-hazards”as well as all-crimes. It appears as if “all-hazards”
means different things to different people — for some, all-hazards suggests the fusion
center is receiving and reviewing streams of incoming information/intelligence from
agencies dealing with all-hazards, to include law enforcement, fire departments, and
emergency management. To others, all hazards means that representatives from the
aforementioned array of public sectors are represented in the center and/or considered
partners to its mission. At some centers, all-hazards denotes the entity’s mission and
scope — meaning the fusion center is responsible for preventing and helping to
mitigate both man-made events and natural disasters. For others, “all-hazards”
indicates both a pre-event prevention role as well as a post-event response, and
possibly recovery, role.

18 CRS conducted in-depth interviews based on a standard protocol with 36 state fusion
centers. CRS also consulted with federal stakeholders at DHS, the FBI, the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) and the Program Manager-Information Sharing Environment.
CRS attended the first annual national fusion center conference and hosted a fusion center
seminar at the Library of Congress which was attended by representatives from Maryland,
Virginia, and Washington, DC, fusion centers. Stakeholders from academia, the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and state and local law enforcement were also consulted.

The majority of fusion centers interviewed for this report claim to serve a solely,
or at least primarily, analytic role. They provide analytic support functions for
operations and investigations, but are not necessarily engaged in such activities.
Those centers that are more operational in nature tended to be either largely “owned”
and operated by a single state police/bureau of investigations agency, and/or
predominately staffed by sworn law enforcement personnel (as compared to more
analyst-heavy fusion centers). The operational activities these centers engaged in
included responding to incident scenes, running/assisting with investigations, and
tasking collectors.
The overwhelming majority of fusion center officials interviewed for this report
saw their centers as primarily prevention-oriented entities. In order to prevent, as well
as mitigate, a variety of threats, fusion centers work to enhance information sharing,
conduct threat assessments and analysis, and support and/or facilitate preparedness
efforts. In most states, there is an emergency management agency and/or operation
center that is responsible for response and recovery activities to both man-made and
natural disasters.19 However, in numerous cases, the fusion center is described as
playing a situational awareness role to support the emergency operations center
(EOC) during events. In a few cases, fusion centers had a more active role: at least
two have sent analysts to the command posts at both high profile events and relevant
emergencies to relay information back to the fusion center.
In general, the fusion centers studied for this report remain largely law
enforcement oriented entities, staffed by state law enforcement personnel.20 Staffing
levels at fusion centers range from 3 to nearly 250 full-time personnel, with the
average number of full time staff at approximately 27 persons.
Federal representation at the fusion centers, the roles the agencies play, and size
of detailee staff differed significantly from center to center. Approximately 30% of
fusion centers are collocated with a federal agency(s) and, as a result, that federal
agency(s) may have a significant influence on their development, operation, and even
budget demands. Furthermore, there appears to be a direct correlation between
federal participation and the center’s positive view of its relationship with that
agency. Federal agencies that participate in various centers, to various degrees,

19 According to National Governors Association (NGA) survey data, “100 percent of
(homeland security adviser) respondents have established a statewide emergency operations
center” — based on 2004 survey for 2005 report, with 38 of the 55 U.S. states and territories
responding, the survey achieved a 69 percent response rate – Homeland Security in the
States: Much Progress, Much Work, January 24, 2005, available at [http://www.nga.org/
20 The large presence of state law enforcement personnel is natural given that the majority
of fusion centers are state-wide entities that grew out of state police/bureau of investigation
intelligence/analysis units. Of the local law enforcement agencies represented, the
overwhelming majority are from the largest local police departments in the country, which
have more resources, and in some cases, intelligence units. For more information please
reference CRS Report RL34070, Fusion Centers: Issues and Options for Congress.

include Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), National Guard, Coast Guard, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF), Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Annual budgets for the fusion centers studied for this report appear to range
from the tens of thousands to several million dollars (with one outlier at over $15
million).21 Similarly, the sources of funding differed significantly from center to
center — as stated, some were entirely dependent on transferring funds from existing
state and/or local funding streams, while others were largely funded by federal grants.
Federal funding ranged from 0%-100% of fusion center budgets, with the average
and median percentage of federal funding at approximately 31% and 21%,
respectively. Thus, it appears that on the whole, fusion centers are predominately
state and locally funded. Over the past two years, the federal government has
provided financial support to fusion centers, largely through the homeland security
grants,22 but it appears that states continue to pay for approximately 80% of fusion
center budgets.23
Access to Intelligence/Information
Almost all fusion centers studied for this report had personnel with security
clearances, although there were a couple of exceptions that had few if any cleared
personnel.24 On average, fusion centers appear to have 14 staff with Secret25
clearances, which is not insignificant considering the average staff size of the fusion
centers interviewed for this report was approximately 27 full-time persons.26
Clearances for state and local personnel were not restricted to Secret-level clearances,
but also included some Top Secret (approximately 6 persons on average) and Top
Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) (approximately one person on

21 Fusion center budgets were assessed on a case-by-case basis, going back the numbers of
years each fusion center was in existence and for which the center had budget data.
22 As well as the detailees, collocation costs, and clearances that are provided by individual
federal agencies.
23 Numerical assessment derived from discussion with fusion center leaders detailing the
approximate funds received to date from the federal government.
24 It should be noted that the ability to receive, share, and analyze information and make
counterterrorism related decisions may be made difficult if the entirety of the fusion center’s
analytic workforce does not have the same level of security clearance.
25 For information on the various security clearances mentioned in this report see FBI,
“Security Clearance Process for State and Local Law Enforcement,” available from
[http://www.fbi.gov/clearance/securityclearance.htm], accessed on July 27, 2007, and
Derrick Dortch, “Getting a Security Clearance,” The Washington Post, June 25, 2004,
[ h t t p : / / www.washi n gt onpost . com/ ac2/ wp-dyn/ A52768-2003Feb10?l a nguage =pr i nt er ] .
26 For the purposes of this report, the authors attempted to focus on full-time personnel with
clearances, although in some cases fusion centers have a large number of cleared part-time

average) clearances as well. In some cases, federal detailees to the centers held the
highest level clearances; in other cases, state, and local officials assigned to the center
held TS/SCI clearances. In some cases, fusion centers had cleared personnel but not
the infrastructure to receive and store classified information.
Successful Fusion
It is unclear if a single fusion center of the forty plus that are currently in
operation (or soon to be) has successfully adopted a truly proactive prevention
approach to information analysis and sharing. No state and its local jurisdictions
appear to have fully adopted the intelligence cycle to support fusion center
operations. While some states have seen limited success in integrating federal
intelligence community analysis into their fusion centers, research indicates most
continue to struggle with developing a “true fusion process” which includes value
added analysis of broad streams of intelligence, identification of gaps, and proactive
collection of information to fulfill those gaps to prevent criminal and terrorist acts.
Federalism and the Federal Role in Fusion Centers
One of the central, if implicit, themes that runs throughout this report is
federalism. That is, while fusion centers were largely established by states, if the
federal intent is to create a network of fusion centers that can be leveraged for both
state, local, and federal public safety and homeland security purposes, there are
several challenges that must be overcome. CRS research indicates that one of the
central challenges of designing a constructive and productive federal role in
supporting these state and local fusion centers is working to ensure that the centers
retain their state and local-level identity and support from those communities.
According to many homeland security observers, one manifestation of this tension
lies in the need to strike a balance between the national needs for a consistent
provider of state and local threat information with the state’s autonomy to pursue
issues deemed of importance to local jurisdictions. This tension is often notable
when reviewing the diverse, and at times incompatible, types of threat and warning
products required by state leaders and contrasted to those requested by federal
homeland security and law enforcement entities.
Part of the challenge from the federal perspective has been how to guide, but not
dictate to, the “owners and operators” of these largely state-established entities prior
to the provision of any federal financial support. And, once federal financial and
human resources support was provided, how to coordinate and target these resources
for maximum overall return on investment.
Another example of how federalism flows throughout the fusion center issue is
the legal treatment of terrorism. Terrorism is a federal crime. If it is prosecuted at
all, it is usually done at the federal level. However, since the September 11th attacks,

terrorism has been codified as a crime in many states.27 Another example of how
federalism permeates fusion centers is privacy. There is one Federal Privacy Act,28
and numerous state privacy laws.29 If fusion centers are serving both state, local, and
federal ends, one of the central questions becomes what is the role of the federal
government in supporting these centers, and what products and services can the
federal government reasonably expect the centers to produce, given federal funding
As elements of the states and regions they serve, fusion centers began to develop
critical mass or staying power in the years immediately following the terrorist attacks
of 2001. As these centers continued to proliferate across the country and garnered
state support, federal entities began to take notice. While 30% of the fusion centers
interviewed were established prior to 2004, concrete federal financial support for the
centers did not materialize until Fiscal Year 2004, when, according to DHS, it
provided $29 million of Homeland Security Grant Program funding.30 Federal
guidance to the fusion centers followed shortly thereafter in July 2005. Finally, in
2006, human capital support in the form of DHS and FBI detailees to the centers
began taking place.
While DHS has provided direct financial support to the fusion centers through
the HSGP, the FBI has not provided direct financial support. The FBI’s contributions
have come more in the form of support for security clearances,31 personnel support,
and other “in-kind” contributions, such as rent payments when centers are collocated
with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces or Field Intelligence Groups.32
The federal government has played several roles in assisting states and regions
to develop their fusion centers, including the provision of:
!Recognition, post-9/11, of the need to have state and local
governments and the private sector, non-traditional actors in national
security matters, play an increasingly important role in homeland
!Guidance, to be adopted voluntarily by fusion centers, on the central
elements of a fusion center and suggested methods for how to
establish and operate sound fusion center policies and practices.

27 National Conference of State Legislatures, Summaries of Crime-Related Terrorism State
Enactments, available at [http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cj/02terrorsum.htm], January 2003.
28 See the Privacy Act of 1974, codified at 5 U.S.C, Section 552a.
29 See National Conference of State Legislatures, available at [http://www.ncsl.org/
programs /pubs/privacy-overview.htm] .
30 See DHS, Office of Grants and Training, Fusion Centers: DHS Funded Activities —
Fiscal Years 2004-2006, April 2007.
31 According to the FBI, it has obtained security clearances for 520 State and local law
enforcement officers assigned to fusion centers. See FBI, “Fusion Centers,” material
provided to CRS from the FBI, dated May 25, 2007.
32 See FBI, “Fusion Centers,” material provided to CRS from the FBI, dated May 25, 2007.

!Technical assistance and training related to issues encountered as
fusion centers develop.
!Financial resources to support fusion center “start up” costs,
including system connectivity.
!Human resources to assist in interaction with federal agencies and
analytical fusion.
!Assistance to support enhanced information sharing between the
federal government and state and local entities through the fusion
!Congressional hearings on fusion centers.
!Promulgation of federal regulations.
Fusion Center Challenges and Potential Options
for Congress
Given that fusion centers are entities established by states, localities and regions
to serve their own criminal, emergency response, and terrorism prevention needs, and
the sensitivities associated with federalism, there may not necessarily be a federal
remedy to every fusion center-related issue identified in this report. Congress may
wish to take no action regarding fusion centers.
Should Congress desire to act, there are at least two categories of challenges and
potential options: (I) those challenges for which there are unique federal remedies
and (II) those challenges for which there are no unique federal remedies, and may be
more oriented toward possible state or level governmental intervention.
Congressional remedies could potentially involve a broad range of possible actions
including, but not limited to: oversight of federal agencies and entities engaged in
interaction with fusion centers; requesting Executive Branch action on any number
of fusion center-related issues; establishing a statutory basis for fusion centers;
convening additional hearings which might include state and local fusion center
leaders as expert witnesses; adjusting future funding levels for fusion centers; and/or
considering the extent to which, if at all, any future federal funding may be
conditioned on fusion centers meeting performance benchmarks established, perhaps
jointly, by federal homeland security intelligence-related agencies and fusion center
represent at i v es.

Options for Congress
Given the stated need to develop a national network of fusion centers, and that
a certain amount of financial and human resources have been devoted to assisting
states and regions develop their fusion centers, the following represent challenges
and options that the federal government and, specifically, Congress may wish to
consider. Based on CRS research and analysis concerning the issues of greatest
import to fusion centers, two prioritized tiers of options have been developed.
Tier I: National Strategy and Sustainable Resources
While the question of sustainable federal support for fusion centers was
foremost in the minds of many associated with fusion centers, the absence of a formal
national strategy for fusion centers was also a great concern.
Option 1: Draft a National Fusion Center Strategy. Notwithstanding
the fact that individual federal agencies and offices may have their own strategies
concerning their interaction with state and regional fusion centers, there remains no
definitive national strategy on fusion centers. One option for Congress is to
recommend that the Executive Branch draft a cross-agency national strategy with
input from the FBI, DHS, ODNI (PM-ISE), DOD and other Intelligence Community,
and state and regional fusion center representatives. Should such a strategy be
determined desirable, it might address the following issues:
!Ownership and benefits. Who “owns” fusion centers and who
benefits from their work?
!Federal versus state, local, and tribal (SLT) roles and
responsibilities, to include funding. What is an equitable division
of labor and costs?
!Permanence — statutory basis and sustainment funding. If
fusion centers play an important homeland security role, should they
be provided a statutory basis at the federal level? If continued federal
funding is being contemplated, how might it be structured to yield
the most productive outcome for federal, state and local fusion
center clients?
!Ultimate goals and performance measures. What gaps do fusion
centers fill and how does the federal government measure
!Coordinated federal interaction with fusion centers. How does
the federal government ensure the various agencies engaged in
homeland security have a coordinated plan for fusion and efficient
interaction with fusion centers?
!Relationship between fusion centers and the Federal Intelligence
Community. How closely, if at all, should fusion centers be

integrated into the federal intelligence community? Are fusion
centers members of the intelligence community, adjuncts or partners
with the intelligence community, a proxy information source, or an
unrelated and parallel information effort?
Option 2: Answer the Sustainment Funding Question. While
respondent fusion center leaders had many high priority items concerning their
interaction with the federal government, the question of sustainment funding was
foremost in their minds. Should federal funding to fusion efforts be continued? To
what end? And, how conditional does Congress want federal aid to fusion centers to
be? The current regime of HSGP funding includes some limited conditions for
funding fusion centers. However, the Fusion Center Guidelines remain entirely
voluntary even for recipients of federal HSGP funds. As a result, for example, the
federal government has no formal and systematic means of auditing whether each
center is appropriately protecting civil liberties, or using federally funded intelligence
analysts in a manner that is consistent with national goals and objectives for fusion
centers, should they be explicitly defined. As outlined above, should Congress
determine it wishes to take action on this option, a range of possible legislative tools
are available, as discussed below.
2a. Status Quo. The most obvious option is to continue the current manner
of funding — that is, using the HSGP grants as the federal mechanism to make
funding available for states and localities for potential allocation to state and regional
fusion centers. This process is reliant on state grant applications, and the flow of
federal funds to state/regional fusion centers is largely determined by the sub-federal
designees that make homeland security grant allocation decisions within each state
and/or municipality. Furthermore, fusion centers compete with a wide range of
homeland security initiatives for funding. While certain elements of HSGP funding
are geared toward supporting fusion center development, there is no targeted funding
stream directly allocated to fusion centers themselves.
2b. Status Quo “Plus”: Enhance Flexibility of the Current HSGP or
Establish a Fusion Center Grant Program Within HSGP. Under this
potential option, the current grant program could be slightly altered to address some
of the oft cited hurdles that state and local officials believe impede the flow of federal
grant funds to fusion center projects. Two such alterations to be considered include:
!Increasing the duration of grant cycles in order to allow for enhanced
continuity and human resource planning, particularly for contract-
supported intelligence analysts.
!Building some level of autonomy into the HSGP “80/20”
localities/state split of HSGP funding to allow state political
leadership some autonomy to re-allocate a portion of overall HSGP
funds to a single, designated state-wide fusion center. Such
flexibility could be conditioned on formal HSGP audits to ensure
accountability and that funds re-allocated within state HSGP awards
are consistent with the state’s fusion center mission and Federal
Fusion Center Guidelines. These audits would include input from

fusion center leaders, State Administrative Agents, and the state’s
Homeland Security Advisor.
2c. Develop a Sustainment Funding Approach. If it is determined that
establishing a national network of fusion centers serves long-term, national homeland
security interests, it may be reasonable to design a system which provides resources
to state and local fusion centers commensurate with the national benefit derived.
This presupposes the development of (1) a cogent set of concrete national interests
served by fusion centers, (2) a set of metrics that can quantitatively capture how well
fusion centers are meeting these interests and goals, (3) standards for “minimum
levels of capability” and fusion center “maturity,”and (4) thresholds linking levels of
maturity to levels of federal funding. These standards and metrics could be
developed as part of a cooperative endeavor between federal, state, and local
representatives, possibly under the “Global” program. As with other options above,
the extent to which Congress could condition such an approach is an open question.

2d. Direct and Sustainable Fusion Center Functional Support.

Alternatively, Congress alone, or with input from DHS, the FBI, and the PM-ISE,
could determine that there are certain fusion center functions that provide direct value
and benefits to the federal government, and as such, warrant sustainable federal
financial support. For example, it might be determined that the development of state-
wide intelligence systems and information and intelligence analysis are two core
fusion center functions that are clearly linked to the federal benefit derived from
fusion centers. As such, the federal government could determine that it would
support these functions directly and possibly in a sustainable manner. If such a
decision were made, a pilot program might be established and implemented at certain
fusion centers over a specified time period to ascertain empirical federal benefits
derived from direct support of such functions.
2e. End Federal Funding. Some homeland security observers suggest that
the lack of a federal fusion center strategy coupled with differing governmental
mission expectations may prevent effective coordination between state and federal
government homeland security organizations. If the mission of state fusion centers
evolves into analyzing non-terrorism-related, local criminal activities, with little
consideration for meeting the needs of federal counterterrorism agencies, Congress
may wish to end federal funding for state fusion center efforts.
Tier II: Creating a True Trusted Partnership
The further development of the relationship between the federal law
enforcement and intelligence communities with fusion centers may prove helpful.
The following measures may facilitate this relationship:
Option 1: Training. Given that effective information/intelligence fusion and
proactive approaches to all-hazard prevention and preparedness depends on a
common understanding of intelligence and information and the potential uses thereof,
an argument can be made for enhanced and uniform fusion center training. CRS
research indicates that the diversity of types of professionals serving in fusion centers
can lead to differing perspectives, or possibly, competing visions for the fusion
center. Retired military intelligence officers may approach intelligence differently

from, for example, state first responder personnel. While neither approach may be
“best” and the center might benefit from diversity of opinions, a common
understanding of and lexicon for intelligence and its benefits and limits amongst all
level of fusion center personnel can go a long way toward ensuring cohesiveness,
clarity of vision, and productivity of a fusion center.
In addition to intelligence training, some homeland security observers note that
fusion centers may benefit from additional and standardized civil liberties training.
Most fusion centers surveyed claim to have institution-wide civil liberty training and
awareness activities that ensure all employees are aware of how personal and
corporate information can be collected, received, stored, and combined with
traditional intelligence community information toward producing a risk assessment
for a given issue of concern. However, this training is often agency-specific and there
may be differences between state activities and federal expectations. As such,
Congress may wish to require a part of all funding allocated toward a state fusion
center be used for nationally consistent civil liberties training with special attention
to concerns surrounding the use of private sector data. Another option would make
such training a precondition for receiving federal grants. Should Congress wish to
pursue this option, a range of possible legislative tools are available, including
designating a federal government entity to provide oversight of these efforts, amongst
others, as discussed below.
Option 2: Build Additional Linkages to the Federal Intelligence
Community. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael McConnell’s “Focus
Area 5: Accelerate Information Sharing,” in the 100 Day Plan for Integration and
Collaboration, asserted that, “The Plan includes objectives related to enhancing
information sharing within the IC as well as the formalization of fusion centers that
are in the process of being developed.”33 Formalization and linkages between the
fusion centers and the federal intelligence community could have many
interpretations and concrete manifestations. As outlined above, should Congress
determine it wishes to take action on this option, a range of possible legislative tools
are available, as discussed below. Among others, these linkages might take the form
!Continued strengthening the fusion center participation in the
intelligence community through personnel exchanges, such as that
taking place at the Interagency Threat Assessment Coordination
Group (ITACG).
!Drafting a National Intelligence Estimate on the potential nexus
between criminal activity and terrorism.
!Enhancing mechanisms for fusion centers to task the Intelligence
Community for information and receive feedback based on the
information they provide to the Intelligence Community.

33 See Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 100 Day Plan for INTEGRATION and

!Establishing a mechanism for fusion centers to have input into the
National Intelligence Priorities Framework.
Option 3: Consider Structural Issues. There is no “cookie cutter”
approach to fusion centers. Although the centers may all have some core functions,
the financial and personnel resources they have to dedicate to those functions differ
widely. Structurally, the continued development of the fusion center concept could
progress along any of the following, albeit non-exhaustive, paths. Should Congress
determine it wishes to take action on this option, a range of possible legislative tools
are available that might influence that following potential paths of development,
!supporting the current path of development,
!supporting the designation of one fusion center per state,
!moving toward the development of regional fusion centers,
!expanding the FBI Field Intelligence Groups to be the Federal
Strategic Analysis Fusion Centers, and
!establishing of a National Fusion Center Representative
Option 4: Enhance Information Access and Management. There are
numerous measures which Congress might consider in this area to assist fusion
centers. Should Congress determine it wishes to take action on this option, a range
of possible legislative tools are available that might influence that path of
development, as discussed below.
!Consider revision to federal regulations guiding state, local and
tribal (SLT) criminal intelligence systems, 28 CFR, Part 23.
!Require all federally funded criminal intelligence systems to be
!Standardize reporting formats.
!Consolidate federal information sharing systems.
!Consider increasing the number of cleared SLT personnel at fusion
!Urge compliance with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
Prevention Act and 9/11 Commission recommendations regarding

Appendix A: Map of Current and Planned Fusion Centers