/ / / / GIF 2014 Volume 12 Issue 5 (July/August)

Q&A: Francis X. Taylor


Security Analyst:
Intelligence Support for all
Homeland Security Missions 


Francis X. Taylor
Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis

Francis X. Taylor became the under secretary for intelligence and analysis (I&A), Department of Homeland Security, on April 14, 2014. He is charged with providing the secretary, DHS senior leadership, the DHS components, and state, local, tribal and private sector partners with the homeland security intelligence and information they need to keep the country safe, secure and resilient. I&A is a member of, and the department’s liaison to, the national intelligence community.

Immediately prior to this assignment, Taylor was vice president and chief security officer for the General Electric Co. in Fairfield, Conn. At GE, he was responsible for managing the security operations and crisis management processes designed to ensure the security of GE employees and operations globally.

Before GE, Taylor had a 35-year career in government service, where he held several senior positions managing investigations, security and counterterrorism issues.

Most recently, he served as the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of ambassador. He was responsible for the global security of all U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities. Taylor also served as the U.S. ambassador at large and coordinator for counterterrorism for the Department of State from July 2001 to November 2002. In this role, he was responsible for implementing U.S. counterterrorism policy overseas and coordinating the U.S. government response to international terrorist activities.

During his 31 years of military service, Taylor served with distinction in numerous command and staff positions, rising to the rank of brigadier general in 1996. In his final active duty assignment, Taylor was the commander, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and was responsible for providing Air Force leaders with comprehensive criminal, fraud, counterintelligence and security investigation and operations to protect global Air Force operations.

Taylor holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in government and international studies from the University of Notre Dame, where he was named a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program.

Q: How do you view your mission as under secretary for intelligence and analysis?

A: Since my confirmation as under secretary for intelligence and analysis in April, I have done an in-depth review of I&A’s authorities and responsibilities, as well as assessed the value we provide to our broad customer set. I&A’s role is to enable effective information sharing among the federal government and its state, local, tribal and private sector partners, ensuring all involved have a clearer understanding of the nature of the threats that we face collectively. I&A is uniquely positioned within the department and the intelligence community to use DHS data, information from state and local law enforcement, and intelligence from the IC in a way no other agency can.

One of my priorities as under secretary is to work to strengthen and improve the processes and partnerships necessary to identify and mitigate potential threats to our country and our citizens. We will do this by further strengthening DHS’s bond with the National Network of Fusion Centers to improve the two-way flow of communications and enhance I&A’s analytic contribution to the IC of information derived from departmental, state and local sources, as well as work to eliminate duplicative efforts among I&A, other DHS components and our IC partners.

Q: To help provide some background on your efforts, can you give readers an overview of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and its mission, organization and resources?

A: DHS I&A serves to equip the Homeland Security Enterprise with the intelligence and information it needs to keep the homeland safe, secure and resilient. We provide intelligence support across the full range of homeland security missions and ensure that information related to homeland security threats is collected, analyzed and disseminated to all relevant customers.

Our collection is guided by the Homeland Security Intelligence Priorities Framework, a unified set of homeland security information priorities within the IC linked to the National Intelligence Priority Framework. Our analysis is guided by our program of analysis, an assessment of key analytic issues, framed as key intelligence questions (KIQ). These KIQs are shaped by customer needs, administration and departmental leadership priorities, and resources.

As under secretary for intelligence and analysis, I lead I&A and its four offices led by deputy under secretaries: the State and Local Program Office; Plans, Policy and Performance Management Office; Analysis Office; and Enterprise and Mission Support Office.

I also serve as the chief intelligence officer (CINT) for the DHS Intelligence Enterprise. I&A works with, oversees and advocates for the component intelligence elements of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Secret Service (USSS).

I&A is also a member of the IC and as such, I am responsible to both the secretary of homeland security and the director of national intelligence. Our budget is primarily funded in the National Intelligence Program.

Q: In your Senate confirmation testimony, you mentioned a number of goals, including strengthening of DHS’s bond with the National Network of Fusion Centers. What are you doing to bring that about?

A: One of my top priorities as under secretary is to enhance I&A’s unique mission of linking the IC with our state and local partners across our country and to bring to the forefront the value and necessity of state and local information sharing and analysis. I seek to do this by strengthening DHS’s bond with the state and locally owned and operated fusion centers across the country to improve processes and partnerships necessary to identify and mitigate potential threats to our country and our citizens.

I have begun to visit fusion centers across the country to learn firsthand their needs and processes and foster personal relationships with these important state and local partners. I have also reached out to the National Fusion Center Association to discuss how I&A can better align our support to National Network interests.

Already, to better position DHS and fusion centers for improved operationally driven analysis, I increased the deployment of intelligence analysts to fusion centers, which will enhance information sharing from state and locals to the IC, through DHS, and vice versa. Additionally, as a means of tracking fusion center performance, I&A creates annual reports of the data captured through the annual National Network of Fusion Centers Assessment, which tracks the maturity of our nation’s fusion centers. The act of creating the report is typically a year-long process; I am working to condense this review timeline, enabling more rapid action against the identified areas for improvement.

Q: How can I&A’s analytic contribution to the IC of information derived from departmental, state and local sources be enhanced, and what challenges do you face in doing so?

A: What makes I&A unique in the IC is its mission to link the IC with first responders across our country. Fusion centers provide I&A with a critical beachhead from which to deliver information and analytic resources to our nation’s 18,000 police entities. In turn, I&A supports the dissemination and analysis of information derived from departmental and state and local sources, to include law enforcement information and suspicious activity reporting, to the IC to enable timely, informed action to prevent, protect against and effectively respond to threats to the homeland. In meeting this goal, I&A must balance the need to protect information to avoid compromising investigations, sources and methods, and the privacy, civil rights and civil liberties of U.S. persons.

Q: What is your role as DHS chief intelligence officer, and what is your strategy for supporting the DHS Homeland Security Intelligence Enterprise?

A: To better serve the department and the IC, I serve in the role of CINT, and work with DHS components to synergize intelligence activities and resolve unnecessary duplication across the department. My role as CINT is to integrate and align the efforts of the component intelligence programs to maximize the effectiveness of DHS intelligence in support of the Homeland Security Enterprise.

To achieve this, I will continue to leverage the Homeland Security Intelligence Council (HSIC) as a body through which all of DHS’s intelligence elements can discuss and share their priorities and objectives, as well as de-conflict any overlapping efforts to meet the department’s mission of protecting the homeland. As CINT, I use the HSIC as a forum to set common DHS standards and oversee the execution of departmental policy and common services. This includes developing and communicating consistent enterprise priorities, and identifying and leading collaboration to address gaps in intelligence support to operations and gaps in intelligence capabilities.

As CINT, to integrate intelligence efforts between I&A and all the DHS components, I ensure appropriate access to IC information to enable DHS component missions and operations. For example, I&A provides SCI network access to the components to enable direct access to IC holdings. Additionally, I&A produces tailored all-source analytic products, fusing IC, DHS component, and state and local information, specifically for the operations of the Homeland Security Enterprise. I&A also provides a centralized collection requirements management process and a centralized intelligence request for information process for the Intelligence Enterprise, including intelligence support units. I&A facilitates the synchronization of analysis and collection activities across all of the components to enable all portions of the enterprise.

Q: What role do you see for geospatial technology in homeland security intelligence?

A: The first thing I want to ensure your readers understand is that DHS takes its role in protecting the civil rights and civil liberties of our nation’s citizens very seriously. We are in constant discussions with the DHS Office of the General Counsel, the department’s components, such as ICE, CBP, TSA, USSS and National Protection and Programs Directorate, and the primary service provider, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, whenever we determine that geospatial technologies and the products they provide are required in support of our all-threats, all-hazards homeland security mission. This allows me to ensure the citizens of this nation are fully protected from undue or unwarranted intrusions, while accomplishing my primary mission of keeping them safe.

The use of geospatial technologies in support of homeland security intelligence is not new, and we are constantly finding additional ways of taking advantage of our nation’s technical capabilities. We have been using imagery and imagery-derived products since before the establishment of the department—one such example includes supporting FEMA in its disaster preparedness and recovery missions—and the department will only grow in its dependency on these types of products and services in the foreseeable future. Specific roles for geospatial technologies to assist the department include support to infrastructure analysis, damage assessments from natural and man-made disasters, detection of illegal border crossings in remote areas, environmental assessments and studies, and geodesy and mapping requirements.

Q: How is full motion video (FMV) being used in domestic intelligence, and what challenges and opportunities do you see for that technology in the future?

A: I’d like to get away from using the term “domestic” intelligence and use the term you used earlier, homeland security intelligence. The CBP Office of Air and Marine (OAM) currently uses organic FMV capabilities on-board Predator unmanned aerial systems (UASs) along the nation’s southern borders and the littorals. When Predators are up and flying in support of CBP Office of Border Protection officers and their operations, the FMV capability on-board provides those officers a level of “protective over-watch” as they are conducting law enforcement operations that they might not normally have.

One of the challenges CBP OAM faces, just like our IC colleagues, is one of “data overload.” The amount of raw information that gets collected needs to be analyzed for homeland security intelligence value, and we are working to ensure that the communications and storage architecture is in place for that raw data to be tagged, stored and available for retrieval at some point in the future. We are working very hard to ensure that this very valuable raw information is available to the law enforcement/homeland security community to support future operations or in preparation for disaster mitigation and recovery activities.

The opportunities for the use of this technology are boundless. I mentioned earlier that the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure is an area of potential growth for I&A and the department. It is these very technologies that will provide the foundational baseline data required to do the vulnerability analysis necessary that will ultimately provide for the protection of these critical national assets.

Q: As the Federal Aviation Administration works to prepare for the use of UASs in domestic airspace, how do you see the role of airborne intelligence in homeland security changing?

A: Airborne intelligence collection systems are just one of many capabilities the department will call upon in the homeland security context, but a very vital capability. Their use will have to be very carefully coordinated in areas of high-density airborne traffic to ensure the surrounding airspace is safe for all types of civilian, commercial and military aircraft. The use of UASs for homeland security purposes will change as the threats facing the homeland change, and we need to be thinking now about those threats and potential mitigation strategies. Airborne-centric intelligence capabilities will provide DHS and its components a real-time ability to influence on-going, on-the-ground law enforcement/homeland security operations.

Another capability that has great promise for homeland security intelligence operations is aerostats, which have the ability to potentially provide persistent surveillance across the entire spectrum of homeland security missions. DHS Science and Technology currently has a program to improve the use of aerostats by both CBP and the first responder community, focused on improving detection, identification and classification of illicit activity and improving situational awareness during emergency events such as floods or forest fires. All of these activities will translate into better homeland security intelligence for the protection of the nation and its citizens.

Q: Is your office participating in development of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE), and what impact do you see from it on the homeland security intelligence?

A: Yes, DHS I&A is participating in the development of IC ITE. The impact of IC ITE on homeland security intelligence will be similar to that of other agencies within the IC—increased intelligence integration, increased data security, greater sharing of technology and cost avoidance through economies of scale. We are actively planning to leverage IC ITE services, which will enable us to focus our resources on I&A’s unique contribution to the IC. We are, however, cognizant that DHS primarily collects information that can only be used for authorized purposes and in ways that protect the privacy and civil liberties afforded to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who enter or reside in the United States. We look forward to taking advantage of the IC ITE service offerings and doing our part to allow the IC to operate as one enterprise.

Q: How has your extensive experience, including with the military, government and industry, shaped your approach to your current position?

A: My 43 years of law enforcement, security, intelligence and crisis management experience have prepared me well to further refine and advance the efforts of my talented and dedicated predecessors in leading the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. I have had the distinct honor to serve our country as a U.S. ambassador, leading and directing diplomatic counterterrorism and diplomatic security operations. I also had the privilege to work as the chief security officer for the General Electric Co., a Fortune 10 global U.S. conglomerate. In each of these challenging but distinctly different roles, I assumed responsibility for mission execution and success.

I have also had experience working both line and staff roles, developing and implementing policy, creating and managing budgets at every level, and leading operational activity to mitigate risks to our country, as well as to an American economic giant, and I understand the interdependency of the two. ♦

Last modified on Thursday, 18 June 2015 10:56

Additional Info

  • Issue: 5
  • Volume: 12
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