Secrecy News

DHS Seeks Increase in Domestic HUMINT Collection

The Department of Homeland Security aims to increase its domestic human intelligence collection activity this year, the Department recently told Congress.

In a question for the record from a September 2014 congressional hearing, Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA) asked:  “Do we currently have enough human intelligence capacity–both here in the homeland and overseas–to counter the threats posed by state and non-state actors alike?”

The Department replied, in a response published in the full hearing volume last month (at p. 64):

“DHS is working on increasing its human intelligence-gathering capabilities at home and anticipates increasing its field collector/reporter personnel by 50 percent, from 19 to approximately 30, during the coming year.”

“We are also training Intelligence Officers in State and major urban area fusion centers to do intelligence reporting. This will increase the human intelligence capability by additional 50–60 personnel.”

The projected increase in DHS HUMINT collection activity was not specifically mentioned in the Department’s FY 2015 budget request.

Human intelligence collection in this context does not necessarily mean that the Department is running spies under cover. According to a 2009 report from the Congressional Research Service (footnote 38), “For purposes of DHS intelligence collection, HUMINT is used to refer to overt collection of information and intelligence from human sources. DHS does not, generally, engage in covert or clandestine HUMINT.”

In any case, “The DHS Intelligence Enterprise has increased intelligence reporting, producing over 3,000 reports in fiscal year 2014,” DHS also told Rep. Broun.

A June 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office found fault with some of that reporting, which is generated by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A).

“I&A customers had mixed views on the extent to which its analytic products and services are useful,” GAO found. See DHS Intelligence Analysis: Additional Actions Needed to Address Analytic Priorities and Workforce Challenges, GAO report GAO-14-397, June 2014.

DHS concurred with the resulting GAO recommendations.