Budgetary uncertainty, turf wars, and competing priorities are plaguing the nation’s expanding network of state and regional intelligence fusion centers, reports Security Management magazine. “For me, a fusion center success story may be, I go home happy that Bill and Steve didn't punch each other in that meeting,” FBI agent Matthew Drake of the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center told a conference at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a national security think tank.
The most pressing challenge facing many fusion centers is money, said Kerry Sleeper of the Office of the Program Manager-Information Sharing Environment. Because no two fusion centers are alike, their budgets vary dramatically from $300,000 to $8 million. While most centers rely on a complex mix of funding mechanisms, most are heavily dependent on federal funding. The centers exist on year-to-year grants, complicating long-term investment decisions. “It is concerning to us when it's hard to plan more than a year out at a time,” said the FBI’s Drake. “Do we buy a plotter if next year we can't afford toner. Sounds silly, but that's the type of discussions we have.”