Date Posted: April 2009
Why don't intelligence agencies share information with each other? This article attempts to answer that perennially vexing question by consulting public choice theory as well as insights from other legal disciplines. It begins by surveying arguments for and against expanded sharing, examples of sharing failures, and recent reforms intended to encourage sharing. Next, the article considers why intelligence agencies see information sharing as a threat to the various values they maximize, such as influence over senior executive branch policymakers and autonomy to pursue agency priorities. It then proposes a series of analytical frameworks that enrich our understanding of why agencies resist sharing: At times data exchange resembles an intellectual property problem, sometimes it looks like an antitrust problem, and sometimes it looks like an organizational theory problem. Finally, the article examines whether the solutions suggested by these other disciplines can be adapted to the problems of information sharing.