By: Stephen Shapiro

What is the kernel of the issue?

The US government’s domestic intelligence efforts need reform. Over twenty agencies in and out of the intelligence community conduct domestic intelligence, yet there is no national domestic threat assessment, no unified cross-agency mission package, no responsible officer to manage and deconflict, no way to harmonize civil liberties protections, and no way to provide unified oversight.

Why is the issue important?

Intelligence is our single best tool to fight domestic national security threats, but without a unified and coordinated effort, the tool’s usefulness is diminished (see 9/11/01 and 1/6/21).

What is the recommendation?

The US needs centralized leadership from the DNI through a new Deputy Director for Domestic Coordination who would undertake an annual, full-field domestic threat assessment and provide coordination, budgeting, and deconfliction for an enterprise domestic intelligence mission. This would be better management of existing activities. A “whole pie” approach also would aid Congress to provide holistic oversight instead of doing it piecemeal. Centralization at ODNI also would help ensure the highest standard of civil liberty protections rather than 20+ separate standards.