By Jim Kouri
To alleviate the ongoing problems associated with the sharing of classified information between the agencies within the Homeland Security Department and local law enforcement departments, a plan to implement President Barack Obama’s executive order was revealed on Friday in Washington, D.C.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released an implementing directive that strengthens the sharing of classified information by the federal government with state, local, tribal, and private sector (SLTPS) partners.
The directive implements Executive Order 13549, “Classified National Security Information Program for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities.” On August 18, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13549 to federal agencies involved in national and homeland security operations.
“The need to securely share actionable, timely, and relevant classified information among state, local, tribal, and private sector partners in support of homeland security is critical and self-evident as we work together to address evolving threats,” said Secretary Napolitano during a press conference on Friday.
“Equally evident is the need for a unified, consistent program for the application of standardized security processes and procedures for security clearance management and the safeguarding of classified information across the executive branch and in support of classified information sharing efforts with our partners,” said the Homeland Security Secretary.
“This directive strengthens this effort by instilling uniformity and consistency in the application of security standards when classified information is shared,” she added.
“A governance and oversight structure is now in place through this directive that promotes the uniform application of security standards within the executive branch and state, local, tribal, and private sector partners (directors of security at for-profit and non-profit organizations),” stated officials from the American Society for Corporate Security and the American Federation of Police.
In addition, Executive Order 13549, which was published in the Federal Register grants state governors unusually easy access to classified information including a special exemption for the 50 state governors, declaring that all elected or appointed governors “may be granted access to classified information without a background investigation…”
The directive also maintains consistency with existing policies and standards promulgated through statutes, executive orders, regulations, and other directives, according to the implementing directive.
The directive was coordinated extensively with agencies including representatives of the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as with representatives of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General and Department of Justice.
Under the authority of the Executive Order, and through the DHS implementing directive, “a governance and oversight structure are put in place that will serve to instill and promote the uniform application of security standards within the executive branch and SLTPS communities while maintaining consistency with existing policies and standards as promulgated through statutes, executive orders, regulations, and other directives.”
This directive will serve to lay a consistent security foundation across the information sharing enterprise and thereby further enhance the confidence necessary to support the sharing of classified information, according to Napolitano.