MONDAY, MARCH 22, 2004


Thank you, Domingo, and good morning to you all! I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to reaffirm the Justice Department's commitment to helping justice agencies better share criminal intelligence and other information.

In the terrible days following the 9/11 terrorists attacks, we realized the critical importance of sharing intelligence and other criminal justice information, at all levels of government, to thwart terrorists and other criminals before they strike our homeland and hurt our people. Attorney General John Ashcroft responded to this urgent need by revamping the Justice Department, including the FBI, to better share intelligence among federal, state, and local law enforcement and emergency preparedness agencies and to improve our ability to prevent terrorism and other crime. The Attorney General called for nothing less than a sea change in the way we do business, changing the culture to make us proactive and preventive, not just reactive.

At the Office of Justice Programs, we are contributing to this priority effort through several critical initiatives. For example, we've been working to expand the capabilities of RISS - the Regional Information Sharing System - by linking it to the FBI's Law Enforcement Online - or LEO - system. The combined system provides a secure connection that allows sensitive, but unclassified, homeland security information to be distributed quickly to all RISS and LEO users.

We're also working to address the critical issue of communications interoperability. As you know, when multiple public safety agencies respond to an incident, they're often unable to communicate effectively with one another - or sometimes even with their own agencies - because their radio equipment is incompatible. We know that this is nothing short of a life or death matter for public safety officers in a time of crisis.

The Office of Justice Programs, through its National Institute of Justice, is working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other partners to find solutions to this problem by developing standards for voice, data, image, and video communication systems. These solutions will allow multiple parties, using different systems, to exchange information on the spot.

We're also working to promote better wireless communication for the entire public safety community and to improve law enforcement access to the radio spectrum. For example, we're working to reduce interference in public safety wireless communication caused by civilian cell phones, a problem that's becoming increasingly critical as the number of cell phones continues to grow.

But perhaps our most far-reaching effort is our support for the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative. Global is a consortium of 32 local, state, tribal, federal, and international justice organizations that are working together to overcome the barriers to justice information sharing across agencies, disciplines, and all levels of government, while preserving legitimate privacy and security concerns.

Over the last two years, the members of the Global Advisory Committee and its Intelligence Sharing Working Group have met to examine issues involved in justice information systems integration, coordinate efforts, and provide guidance on how federal, state, and local jurisdictions can securely and effectively share criminal intelligence. We recently released Global's proposed National Criminal Intelligence Plan, which will help map the future of law enforcement information-sharing efforts in this country.

The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan is the first of its kind in this country. It was developed by the Global Advisory Committee in collaboration with the IACP, the COPS office, and OJP. The plan promises to bring us closer to achieving the goal of Aintelligence-led policing@ -- basing policies and deployment of resources on solid information, and enabling law enforcement to be proactive and strategic, rather than following the more traditional, reactive approach.

The plan provides a wealth of information that every law enforcement agency in this country can use to improve the development and sharing of criminal intelligence. And it serves as a Aroadmap@ for our national criminal intelligence sharing initiatives.

I was pleased to recommend to the Attorney General his endorsement of this landmark document, which he announced at the IACP conference last October. And we're already moving to implement parts of the National Plan.

For example, we've begun an effort to coordinate training curricula and standards for intelligence analysts serving law enforcement agencies. These analysts are essential if law enforcement professionals are going to be able to use criminal intelligence effectively to guide their decision-making.

One of the Global Advisory Committee's more important contributions to the future of criminal justice in this country is its development of Extensible Markup Language. XML technology acts as a universal translator among information systems and allows disparate systems to share data without compromising the integrity of that data.

The XML standard allows a search for data across different systems by using Atags@, to pull out and categorize various kinds of information, creating in essence a universal language - making normally incompatible data systems interoperable.

While I'll leave the technical details to the experts, I can tell you that XML is revolutionizing our ability to share information among justice agencies. Currently, more than 50 justice information sharing projects are underway using the XML Data Model. Let me give you some examples of how it's working.

Last April, police in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, were able to capture a bank robbery suspect in less than two hours by matching his bank surveillance photo with an image on Justice Network, or JNET, which is Pennsylvania's XML-enabled justice information sharing network.

Just two months ago, within hours of learning about four homicides in one neighborhood, police in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, used a JNET photo image to confirm the suspect's identity. Through a stakeout, police apprehended the homicide suspect and recovered an assault weapon.

In addition to using XML to solve cases, state and local jurisdictions that have implemented the Global Justice XML Data Model are reporting substantial cost savings. Minnesota's Department of Public Safety has saved more than a million dollars over three years by using the XML Data Model rather than developing its own statewide standard for information systems.

Officials in Orange County, Florida, predict that they will realize savings of five to seven million dollars a year on their Integrated Criminal Justice Information Systems project by replacing redundant data entry applications with a Global Justice XML application.

And the CEO of a technology company that is working with Colorado state officials to implement the statewide AMBER Alert child abduction recovery system recently wrote to tell me that the company - and, therefore, the state - is saving thousands of dollars in programming costs by using the AMBER Alert XML standard, which is based on the Global model.

So I encourage you to use the opportunity provided through this symposium to learn how you can use XML and other technology to facilitate information sharing for your jurisdiction. Information is perhaps our most potent weapon in the fight against crime. As we continue to combat terrorism at home and abroad, as well as more traditional crime on our streets and in our neighborhoods, we must continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure the security of our nation and its citizens. I thank you for your efforts to aid in this critical mission.