(CN) — The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Tuesday to require intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to publicly track and analyze data collected on “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” commonly referred to as UFOs.
Concerned that there is no “unified, comprehensive process within the federal government for collecting and analyzing intelligence on unidentified aerial phenomena,” the committee added the provision to the annual intelligence authorization bill.
“The committee understands that the relevant intelligence may be sensitive; nevertheless, the committee finds that the information sharing and coordination across the intelligence community has been inconsistent, and this issue has lacked attention from senior leaders,” the panel wrote in its report on the bill.
The move stems from a 2017 acknowledgment by the Pentagon that it funds a formerly secret multimillion-dollar program, known as the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, that investigates sights of so-called UFOs, short for unidentified flying objects.
Managed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, the program is charged with investigating connections that unidentified aerial objects might have to adversarial foreign governments and what threats these objects or phenomena could pose to the U.S. military.
With new sightings recorded by Navy pilots in recent years, the committee is urging senators to approve the provision so the program can be regulated.
If passed by the full Senate, the committee says, the policy would enable the country’s intelligence branches to more easily share information. In addition, the provision would require the agencies to publicly provide information about the program’s activities.
Foreign adversaries, the committee reported, may be systematically probing military installations and the new measure aims to establish uniform reporting requirements for all attempted unauthorized accesses.
The call for unification is partially due to the fact that U.S. intelligence silos store data in isolated locations, which “potentially limits advantageous communications among databases” and “causes vital intelligence to go undetected,” according to the committee report.
In the report, the committee said it is concerned that, “as a result of several recent incidents of attempted unauthorized access to Naval Air Station Key West and Fort Story, Virginia by Chinese nationals, several security vulnerabilities have been discovered.”
If the bill passes with the provision, officials have 180 days to provide the first detailed, unclassified report.