A fusion center is an information sharing center, many of which were jointly created between 2003 and 2007 under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice.
They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. military, and state- and local-level government. As of July 2009[update], the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognized at least 72 fusion centers. Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster.
The fusion process is an overarching method of managing the flow of information and intelligence across levels and sectors of government to integrate information for analysis. That is, the process relies on the active involvement of state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies—and sometimes on non–law enforcement agencies (e.g., private sector) – to provide the input of raw information for intelligence analysis. As the array of diverse information sources increases, there will be more accurate and robust analysis that can be disseminated as intelligence.
A two-year senate investigation found that "the fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever."
Common misconceptions 
Although the phrase fusion center has been used widely, there are often misconceptions about the function of the center. Perhaps the most common is that the center is a large room full of work stations where the staff are constantly responding to inquiries from officers, investigators, and agents. This vision is more accurately a watch center or an investigative support center – not an intelligence fusion center. Another common misconception is that the fusion center is minimally staffed until there is some type of crisis whereupon representatives from different public safety agencies converge to staff workstations to manage the crisis. This is an emergency operations center, not an intelligence fusion center. The fusion center is not an operational center but a support center driven by analysis.
Fusion process 
The fusion process proactively seeks to identify perceived threats and stop them before they occur. A fusion center is typically organized by amalgamating representatives from different federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies into one physical location. However, some fusion centers gather information not only from government sources, but also from their partners in the private sector. Each representative is intended to be a conduit of raw information from his or her agency, a representative who can infuse that agency-specific information into the collective body of information for analysis. Conversely, when the fusion center needs intelligence requirements the representative is the conduit back to the agency to communicate, monitor, and process the new information needs. Similarly, the agency representative ensures that analytic products and threat information are directed back to one’s home agency for proper dissemination. According to the fusion center guidelines, a fusion center is defined as “a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and/or information to the center with the goal of maximizing the ability to detect, prevent, apprehend, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity. The intelligence component of a fusion center focuses on the intelligence process, where information is collected, integrated, evaluated, analyzed, and disseminated. Nontraditional collectors of intelligence, such as public safety entities and private sector organizations, possess important information that can be fused' with law enforcement data to provide meaningful information and intelligence about threats and criminal activity.”
State and local police departments provide both space and resources for the majority of fusion centers. The analysts working there can be drawn from DHS, local police, or the private sector. A number of fusion centers operate tip hotlines and also invite relevant information from public employees, such as sanitation workers or firefighters.
There are a number of documented criticisms of fusion centers, including relative ineffectiveness at counterterrorism activities, the potential to be used for secondary purposes unrelated to counterterrorism, and their links to violations of civil liberties of American citizens and others. One such fusion center has been involved with spying on anti-war and peace activists as well as anarchists in Washington State.
David Rittgers of the Cato Institute has noted
a long line of fusion center and DHS reports labeling broad swaths of the public as a threat to national security. The North Texas Fusion System labeled Muslim lobbyists as a potential threat; a DHS analyst in Wisconsin thought both pro- and anti-abortion activists were worrisome; a Pennsylvania homeland security contractor watched environmental activists, Tea Party groups, and a Second Amendment rally; the Maryland State Police put anti-death penalty and anti-war activists in a federal terrorism database; a fusion center in Missouri thought that all third-party voters and Ron Paul supporters were a threat; and the Department of Homeland Security described half of the American political spectrum as "right wing extremists." 
MIAC report 
Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) made news in 2009 for targeting supporters of third party candidates, Ron Paul supporters, pro-life activists, and conspiracy theorists as potential militia members. Anti-war activists and Islamic lobby groups were targeted in Texas, drawing criticism from the ACLU.
[T]he Privacy Office has identified a number of risks to privacy presented by the fusion center program:
2009 Virginia terrorism threat assessment 
In early April 2009, the Virginia Fusion Center came under criticism for publishing a terrorism threat assessment which stated that certain universities are potential hubs for terror related activity. The report targeted historically black colleges and identified hacktivism as a form of terrorism.
See also 
- Council of Governors
- Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007
- Investigative Data Warehouse
- Open-source intelligence
- Total Information Awareness
- USA PATRIOT Act
- Carter, D. L.; Carter, J. G. (2009). "The Intelligence Fusion Process for State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement". Criminal Justice and Behavior 36 (12): 1323–1339. doi:10.1177/0093854809345674.
- O'Harrow, R. (October 2, 2012). "DHS ‘fusion centers’ portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (October 3, 2012). "Investigative Report Criticizes Counterterrorism Reporting, Waste at State & Local Intelligence Fusion Centers".
- Monahan, T. (2009). "The Murky World of 'Fusion Centres'" (pdf). Criminal Justice Matters 75 (1): 20–21.
- Harwood, M. "Smashing Intelligence Stovepipes". Security Management. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Global Intelligence Working Group, 2005a, p. 8" (pdf). Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- Monahan, T.; Palmer, N. A. (2009). "The Emerging Politics of DHS Fusion Centers" (pdf). Security Dialogue 40 (6): 617–636.
- Report on Fusion Centers July 29, 2009 Democracy Now
- Rittgers, David (February 2, 2011). "We’re All Terrorists Now". Cato Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-04-15.
- [dead link]
- Wagley, John. "Fusion Centers Under Fire in Texas and New Mexico". Security Management. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- Privacy Impact Assessment for the Department of Homeland Security State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative December 11, 2008 
- "Fusion center declares nation's oldest universities possible terror threat". The Raw Story. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- 2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment. Commonwealth of Virgina. Department of State Police. Virginia Fusion Center. March 2009.
- Fusion Center Guidelines issued by the US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs
- Information Fusion Centers and Privacy Information related to Fusion Centers and privacy. Electronic Privacy Information Center June 2008.
- Fusion Center Update Report from the ACLU July 2008.
- Council on Foreign Relations: Fusion Centers
- "Fusion Centers", July 15, 2010, Radio4All podcast about fusion centers and the Total Information Awareness program
- "Fusion Centers Map, Locations, Contact Information", February 15, 2011, PublicIntelligence blog's listing of centers