WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation Tuesday introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) to strengthen information sharing between local, state and federal law enforcement.
According to a press release from his office, Barletta’s Department of Homeland Security Classified Facility Inventory Act, H.R. 2443, requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain an inventory of facilities certified to store information classified above the Secret level. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The release indicated “law enforcement officials at all levels of government commonly share counterterrorism information. However, a recent report by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, DHS, and the Department of Justice found that, while counterterrorism information is typically classified at the Top Secret level, DHS personnel lack sufficient access to Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) where this information can be shared in the field. Barletta’s bill addresses this issue by requiring greater transparency and information sharing on the locations of all facilities certified by DHS to store classified infrastructure or systems above the secret level.”
“Our local law enforcement officers are the first line of defense against terrorism. We know it will be the police officer on the streets of Hazleton, Shamokin or Shippensburg, not some analyst in Washington, who will recognize when a member of our community has radicalized or been recruited by a gang or terrorist sect,” Barletta said. “Far too often I’ve heard complaints that federal officials do not take local information seriously, simply because someone has not been able to obtain a certain security clearance. This bill eliminates unnecessary roadblocks that could prevent or delay efforts to protect our communities.”
The DHS Classified Facility Inventory Act calls for greater transparency in the locations of all SCIFs certified by DHS to store classified infrastructure or systems above the Secret level. Additionally, the bill reduces wasteful spending by requiring DHS to maintain and update a list of all SCIFs to ensure that DHS does not unnecessarily invest in new facilities in areas already covered by a pre-existing facility.
The bill complements Barletta’s Fusion Center Enhancement Act, H.R. 642, which passed the House in January of this year. H.R. 642 clarifies and enhances the partnership between DHS and the national network of fusion centers, which are collaborative efforts of two or more agencies – including federal, state, and local entities — that share resources and information regarding terrorist or criminal activity. Pennsylvania is home to three fusion centers — the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center in Harrisburg, Delaware Valley in Philadelphia, and Southwestern PA Region 13 in Pittsburgh.