"This plan represents law enforcement's commitment to take it upon itself to ensure that the dots are connected, be it in crime or terrorism," Ashcroft said.
The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan represents input from law enforcement groups representing 1.2 million law enforcement officials from all levels of government. Under the plan, the Justice Department and FBI will more routinely share information with these state and local officials.
"We recognize there is no one agency that can be successful on its own," said FBI Director Robert Mueller. "In order to address these threats, we must change."
The FBI also has put into place a new policy to ensure that more of its information can be broadly disseminated to law enforcement officials by reducing the amount that is classified as top secret or secret. The plan also seeks to overcome turf squabbles and jurisdictional issues that have long blocked information sharing, especially between the FBI and other agencies.
"We're knocking down these barriers each and every day," said Melvin Carraway, chairman of a panel that developed the plan and superintendent of the Indiana State Police.
The failure to share information about terrorist threats among federal, state and local agencies has been repeatedly cited as a key reason the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were not detected or disrupted. In the years since the attacks, the FBI has made intelligence gathering, analysis and sharing one of its top priorities.