Fusion Centers are defined as a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing the ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorism activity. (Fusion Center Guidelines, August 2006).
They are owned and operated by state and local governments.
Though Fusion Centers pre-date the September 11, 2001 attacks, the concept gained momentum and was promoted by state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials during post-9/11 discussions.
State and major urban area Fusion Centers provide analysis and information sharing capabilities that support the efforts of state and local law enforcement to prevent and investigate crime in our local communities and address our most pressing national challenges such as gangs, border violence, narcotics, homicides and terrorism.
Fusion Centers receive information from a variety of sources, such as state and local tips and leads, and federal information and intelligence.
Through blending or “fusing” information and applying human analysis – the Fusion Center creates analytic products that are timely and relevant to their customers needs.
This allows state and local law enforcement to address immediate and emerging threat-related circumstances and events. It also supports risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs.
Fusion Centers create a variety of products (strategic and tactical) that are tailored to their customers’ needs. Depending on the center’s mission their customers may include:
Note: Each of these customer sets would receive different types of products – targeted to their roles and responsibilities.
An analytic resource that supports:
Effective and efficient information sharing and collaboration mechanism:
Saves money – leverages assets and helps local leaders make informed decisions on utilizing resources:
The National Strategy for Information Sharing calls Fusion Centers “vital assets” – and has designated them as the primary focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt and sharing of terrorism-related information.
Fusion Centers provide the Federal Government with critical state and local information and subject-matter expertise that it did not receive in the past -- enabling the effective communication of locally generated terrorism-related information to the federal government.
Integrating and connecting these state and local resources benefits all of us; it creates a national capacity to gather, process, analyze, and share information in support of efforts to protect the nation.
Fusion Centers also enable intrastate and cross-state sharing of information and analysis through the Information Sharing Environment (ISE). By participating in the ISE, Fusion Centers are able to share information in a secure manner, ensuring the information is protected from unauthorized disclosure, and equally important, ensuring that the information that is shared, is done in a manner that protects the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.
Establishing a national integrated network of State and major urban area fusion centers is a key part of the effort to improve the sharing of terrorism information across the United States.
Fusion Centers are owned and operated by state and local governments; they must operate under the authorities of existing Federal, state, and local statutes.
Fusion Centers are an analytic resource and information sharing mechanism – they are not a part of the National Intelligence Community, nor do they manage domestic collection activities on its behalf.
All Fusion Centers are in the process of implementing privacy and civil liberties policies – a requirement from the Baseline Capabilities. (See below for further information).
The Federal Government is providing training, support and guidance to ensure that the privacy and civil liberties policies established by Fusion Centers are consistent with Federal Guidelines.
JTTFs are FBI-sponsored, multi-jurisdictional task forces established specifically to conduct terrorism related investigations. Analytic and information sharing efforts carried out by the JTTFs are done solely to support those investigative efforts.
Fusion Centers are by contrast state and locally owned information analysis centers that focus on analyzing information regarding a broad array of criminal activity for the purposes of trend and pattern analysis intended to support state and local police actions to mitigate emerging crime problems, including terrorism.
Fusion Centers are not investigative entities and do not focus solely on terrorism.
As of February 2009, there are 70 state and major urban area fusion centers operating or in the process of being established in the United States.
Fusion Centers are owned by state and local governments and are subject to the laws and oversight of their state/locality. The policy framework that has developed over the past five years, fall into two categories:
- Guidelines are developed by state and local officials, for use by state and local officials;
- Federal law and policy and national strategy – outlining why and how the Federal Government should support state and urban area Fusion Centers, while respecting the sovereignty of state and local governments.
In recent years Federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial stakeholders recognized the critical need for Fusion Centers to maintain the same level of baseline capabilities in order to operate as an integrated national network. In September 2008, the Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers, an addendum to the Fusion Center Guidelines, was released by DHS, DOJ and Global.
This document defines a set of capabilities which will support federal, state, and local agencies to conduct long term planning and identify the costs and resources necessary for the achievement and sustainment of fusion centers.
It also supports the Federal Government to identify the types of resources needed by the states and localities, which own Fusion Centers and ensures they are provided in a consistent and appropriate manner. The capabilities also assist in ensuring that fusion centers have the basic foundational elements for integrating into the national Information Sharing Environment.
Today, most Fusion Centers are in the process of achieving the capabilities – since resources and priority mission areas vary from center to center, it is expected to take a period of up to five years to achieve all of the capabilities.
Some centers may not need to “house” all of these capabilities, but may choose instead to leverage another fusion center or other operational entity’s capability.
The National Strategy for Information Sharing, in Appendix 1, outlines the roles and responsibilities of Federal and state and local governments for achieving the goal of a national, integrated network of state and major urban area Fusion Centers.
The Strategy stated that “a sustained federal partnership with...Fusion Centers is critical to the safety of our nation, and therefore a national priority,” and that the Federal Government may need to provide financial and technical assistance, as well as human resource support, to these Fusion Centers if they are to achieve and sustain a baseline capability.
The objective is to assist state and local governments in the establishment and the sustained operation of these fusion centers.
To coordinate the Federal Government’s support to fusion centers, the National Fusion Center Coordination Group (NFCCG) was established in 2006.
The NFCCG provides leadership, coordination, and guidance in the development of, and the Federal Government’s support to, a national, integrated network of Fusion Centers operating at the defined baseline level of capability as part of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE).
The NFCCG facilitates collaboration, advocacy, shared resources, and the effective use of coordinated policies, standards, practices and technologies in order to enable the prevention of terrorism-related activity.
Many of the group’s responsibilities are outlined in Appendix 1 of the National Strategy for Information Sharing.
It is co-chaired by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, in partnership with the Department of Justice, Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, Office of Director of National Intelligence and the PM-ISE.
Fusion Centers are owned and operated by state and local governments. Fusion Centers are fully funded through state or local budgets and Federal grants.
Fusion Centers and the work they perform are considered eligible activities for several types of DHS and DOJ grant programs (examples include: DHS’s State Homeland Security Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, and DOJ’s COPS and Byrne Justice Assistance grants).
If a Fusion Center is using federal grant funds, they are required to prioritize their allocation of grant funding to meet the baseline capabilities identified in the Baseline Capabilities Document.
DHS’s FY 2009 Homeland Security Grant Program designates “Maximizing Information Sharing via the National Network of Fusion Centers” as a national priority.
Fusion Centers are owned and operated by state and local governments and support local law enforcement and homeland security officials to protect local communities.
They also support important national needs as well -- as recognized in the National Strategy, Fusion Centers, when operating at a baseline capability and interlinked will create a national capacity to gather, process, analyze, and share information.
The Strategy states that “a sustained federal partnership with...fusion centers is critical to the safety of our nation, and therefore a national priority,” and that the Federal Government may need to provide financial and technical assistance, as well as human resource support, to these fusion centers if they are to achieve and sustain a baseline capability.
The Federal Government has identified and continues to enhance its support to fusion centers in the following areas:
- Mission-based Support – directly supporting the mission by sharing relevant information and subject-matter expertise
- Co-locating federal personnel at Fusion Centers;
- Enhancing information and analysis provided from the Federal Government to Fusion Centers. (ex. Terrorist Screening Center – see Fact Sheet for more information)
- Service-Based Support – Providing services to assist the operations of the Fusion Centers:
- Free training and technical assistance on a variety of critical capabilities, including privacy and civil liberties;
- Access to classified and unclassified information networks;
- Physical Security Guidance; and
- Classified Work Environment/Security Clearances.
- Additionally, the Fusion Centers are eligible for a number of federal government grants. (See Question 13 in FAQ’s - How Are Fusion Centers Funded?)
- Further discussion between Federal, state, and local government is necessary to achieve the National Strategy’s goal of a national integrated network of state and major urban area Fusion Centers operating at a baseline level of capability.