Strategic Information & Operations (SIOC)
The Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) is the FBI’s global command and communications center. It operates around the clock to maintain enterprise-wide situational awareness and to provide FBI leadership with strategic information by serving as a clearinghouse to collect, process, and disseminate information in a timely manner.
SIOC leverages existing resources and provides a platform for more informed decision-making. It supports senior leadership and program managers with an expanded information base and the ability to synthesize intelligence and other information. Additionally, its personnel supports field commanders representing the Bureau worldwide in major investigations, tactical operations, and other matters.
SIOC maintains a constant state of readiness, ensuring a secure venue to support crisis management, special event monitoring, and other significant operational initiatives. As a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), SIOC also offers an appropriately secure place for conducting classified briefings, conferences, and seminars.
With 40,000 square feet of space at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., SIOC consists of six crisis action team rooms, five large-scale operations areas, executive briefing areas, and conference rooms. SIOC promotes flexibility, and has the ability to configure its space to:
- Simultaneously support multiple independent operations of varying size, configurations, and requirements for different security levels;
- Accommodate representatives from other agencies, as well as organizations called upon to participate during special events or crisis operations;
- Supply computers, printers, fax machines, shredders, secure telephones, satellite telephones, and high frequency and satellite radios with connections via public and U.S. government communication lines;
- Offer an interactive audio-visual system throughout the facility that includes video teleconferencing systems;
- Provide information management capabilities including electronic libraries of information accessible through a user-friendly FBI-wide Intranet, as well as local-area and wide-area network connections at the unclassified, secret, and top secret security levels; and
- Sustain an uninterrupted power supply and back-up generators.
SIOC’s services go beyond the boundaries of its physical space. Its technological capabilities bring critical information from missions directly to desktops and conference rooms throughout FBI Headquarters and across the Bureau. Such information includes operational updates, the latest news wire services, maps, program information, case files, and intelligence reports.
The Bureau also maintains divisional centers within the Counterterrorism and Cyber Divisions. The SIOC Watch, the FBI’s sole watch center, has responsibility for the daily intake and dissemination of information for all programs, foreign and domestic, as well as administrative issues. It also works closely with Counterterrorism and Cyber divisional units to ensure that the full spectrum of strategic information and emerging events is handled in a seamless and efficient manner. This also ensures the proper flow of information to FBI Headquarters, field divisions, legal attachés, and other government agency operations centers within the intelligence community.
SIOC was created as a result of multiple simultaneous incidents that demanded a coordinated federal effort to create a national command post that could work around the clock and be ready to gear up at a moment’s notice. The Bureau understood the need for a global watch to centrally manage a major emergency of any kind, as well as oversee several crises at once. Major crimes and terrorist attacks can quickly become national emergencies involving dozens of agencies in different counties, states, and even countries, and the Bureau needed to be able to respond accordingly.
- The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing;
- The 1996 attack on the U.S. military housing complex in Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia;
- The 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa;
- The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon;
- The 2002 D.C. sniper investigation;
- The 2005 London bus and subway bombings;
- Hurricane Katrina in 2005;
- The 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama;
- New York City’s Central Park car bomb attempt in 2010;
- The 2010 Hutaree militia case;
- The 2010 Uganda bombing;
- The 2010 Discovery Center hostage situation near Washington, D.C.;
- The 2011 Tucson, Arizona, shooting incident involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords;
- The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident;
- The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing;
- The 2013 Navy Yard shooting incident;The 2014 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting incident;
The 2014/2015 St. Louis riots;
- The 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting;
- The 2015 San Bernardino, California, shooting incident;
- The annual Presidential State of the Union Address;
- The Winter and Summer Olympic Games; and
- The World Cup, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA finals, and Stanley Cup playoffs.
SIOC has recently implemented a number of critical applications that provide greater support to both its domestic and international responsibilities. These include:
- The Foreign Tracking Program, which supports the FBI’s commitment to protect the well-being of its employees, their dependents, and contractors when their positions overseas place them at risk.
- The Critical Incident and Operations Unit, which coordinates and prepares the operational activation system at FBI Headquarters for a watch, threat or incident, special event, or natural disaster. This includes coordination with field offices, legal attachés, and specialized national assets when the Bureau is required to manage a critical incident.
- The Operation Center Coordination Office, which provides a platform for Field Office Operations Centers to communicate best practices and innovative ideas for evaluation and potential use enterprise-wide.
- Providing a Common Operation Picture (COP) of all deployed FBI national assets.
SIOC was created in 1989 to monitor all major events held in conjunction with the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush. It replaced an ad hoc emergency operations center that was created for specific crisis situations.
In November 1987, simultaneous prison uprisings in Oakdale, Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia made it clear that FBI Headquarters needed a permanent center to handle several crises at a time. Accordingly, following a feasibility study by the Institute for Defense Analysis, SIOC was designed as a 24/7 command post, capable of carrying out a full range of crisis management functions by one medium and one small crisis action team simultaneously, both in constant contact with field commanders and other law enforcement agencies. It encompassed 4,000 square feet, sat roughly 50 people, and had 85 built-in telephone lines.
In 1995, the FBI undertook a major initiative to upgrade SIOC, reflecting its increased responsibilities and the need to manage interagency coordination efforts which had arisen through presidential directives, federal orders, and laws. Then-FBI Director Louis Freeh made a Congressional request for the Bureau to develop a first-class operations center capable of meeting its growing mission in worldwide law enforcement and national security affairs.
On November 20, 1998, the new SIOC was inaugurated by former President George H.W. Bush during the FBI’s 90th anniversary celebration. The center’s full name is the George Bush Strategic Information and Operations Center, as a reflection of the original SIOC being created for and opened on his inauguration as 41st President of the United States. The center officially opened for business when President Bush pushed the “Full Alert Button” and sent an e-mail to all FBI employees.
SIOC was designed to handle up to eight separate crises and operations of varying sizes at any one time. The SIOC facility can provide breakout rooms for strategic planning sessions and teleconferencing capabilities between members of the many interagency partnerships that represent federal, state, and local law enforcement; military services; and the intelligence community.
In 2008, the Foreign Tracking Program was implemented, which supports the FBI’s commitment to protect the well-being of its employees, their dependents, and its contractors when their overseas positions place them at risk.
Since 2008, SIOC has enhanced its readiness to respond to significant events worldwide by adding the Critical Incident Operations Unit (CIOU). This key unit is responsible for overall coordination and assistance when the Bureau activates a Command Post, Crisis Response Plan, or the FBI’s Disaster Management Plan.
Most recently, through training and collaboration with the Crisis Management Unit (CMU), CIOU has increased participation in special events and exercises and has enhanced its abilities to perform its core mission—to successfully prepare for, respond to, and assist in the resolution of crisis situations, critical incidents, and special events. CIOU is poised to respond 24/7 to a crisis or event that requires the activation of a SIOC command.