Election Security Spotlight – Worldwide Threat Assessment

What it is

The “Worldwide Threat Assessment” is released annually by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and provides an overview of the national security threats facing the United States. ODNI supports the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a cabinet-level position reporting to the President, and leads the integration and coordination of the entire U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

The Worldwide Threat Assessment prioritizes global threats facing the U.S. that may need to be addressed in the coming year, providing decision-makers with insight into threats and IC priorities, which are likely to affect federal government operations. All the IC agencies contribute to the assessment, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Each year, the assessment is first provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in open and closed sessions and then to other Senate and House Committees over the following weeks.

Why does it matter

Prioritizing and presenting the threats from the IC’s perspective ensures that the process begins apolitically. This allows the U.S. government to understand the most pressing issues and take a unified approach to combat them. Policymakers use the Worldwide Threat Assessment to focus federal efforts and make decisions on legislation and funding.

Additionally, the Worldwide Threat Assessment provides awareness to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and elections offices concerning national threats affecting them, which include cyber, online influence operations, terrorism, and nation-state activity. SLTT government and election offices work in coordination with all levels of government to prepare for and respond to security incidents. An awareness of the common threats helps facilitate these partnerships.

What you can do

SLTT governments and elections offices should read the Worldwide Threat Assessment and view the congressional hearings to inform themselves of the current threat landscape and compare the relevant areas to their own views. The 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment document is linked above and the 2019 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing is available here.