Report: Many state directors of Homeland Security irked by federal intelligence sharing

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NEW YORK (AP) – Most state Homeland Security directors are dissatisfied with the quality of intelligence data provided by the federal government, a report released Wednesday says, and most also believe that multiple demands on National Guard forces undermine their emergency response capabilities.

The survey was the second annual report on homeland security conducted by the National Governors Association, and the first since Hurricane Katrina and the emerging threat of a global avian flu pandemic. As a result, natural disasters and pandemic influenza joined the security officials’ list of top concerns, along with intelligence, interagency coordination and emergency communications.

The survey was sent to homeland security directors in each state and five territories and commonwealths; 40 directors responded. Among the major findings:

• Multiple demands on National Guard forces have left more than half the states with a diminished capability to meet responsibilities of state emergency plans.

• The directors remain concerned about lack of state input into the development of federal security policy. Directors are nearly unanimous in recommending that the federal government coordinate with states prior to adopting and implementing policies.

• Most of the directors are dissatisfied with the specificity and usefulness of intelligence their states receive from the federal government.

• Most directors view the primary state grant program of the federal Department of Homeland Security as underemphasizing disaster prevention and recovery. One director said more flexibility was needed so states could spend the money as they saw fit, whether that be for adding personnel or tightening protection of possible terrorism targets.

According to the survey, the states do not feel they have representation in the Department of Homeland Security’s policy development and rule-making process. Several state directors said DHS consults with a few hand-picked state officials and “then claims that it produced policy based on broad state input,” the survey said.

The state directors also suggested that federal security officials could do more to reduce bureaucratic red tape and burdensome paperwork requirements.

Regarding intelligence, 60 percent of responding state directors were dissatisfied with the specificity of intelligence they receive from the federal government, and 55 percent were dissatisfied with the “actionable quality” of that intelligence. In the initial survey a year ago, less than half the directors voiced such dissatisfaction.

Regarding the National Guard, the state directors noted that most states and cities rely on these forces to help cope for the first three or four days after a major disaster. A majority of the directors said that the demands on Guard forces – including overseas deployment in Iraq and elsewhere – have reduced their emergency-response capability by at least 25 percent.

The survey said this problem could worsen, depending on the outcome of a proposed change that would allow active-duty military deployment of Guard units to be extended from 270 days to one year.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond immediately to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the survey.

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