When terrorists want to strike, time and information sharing are of the essence. There cannot be breakdown at any level of government or the safety and security of the American people could be endangered. Indeed, a lack of coordination between government agencies has the potential to create widespread panic and fear among the public or outright confusion how people should respond.

That's exactly what happened in October 2005 when federal and city officials provided conflicting information on a possible terror attack on the New York City subway system. At the time, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials described the threat as "specific yet non-credible" while Mayor Michael Bloomberg placed the system under heightened alert and informed the public.

A similar situation occurred a month later in Baltimore when reports of a bomb threat in the I-95 tunnel under Baltimore Harbor led state and federal officials to close the highway - while Baltimore's Mayor and Police Commissioner learned of the closure from the news media.

These incidents offer a clear example of the need for all levels of government to work together to verify, analyze and disclose information on possible attacks in a coordinated manner. An amendment I introduced and that passed the House last week as part of the FY '08 Intelligence Authorization Act would identify best practices in information sharing and develop a plan of action for cities and states to follow should they be the target of a possible attack. The amendment also ensures the highest level of cooperation and coordination to protect the American people.

When it comes to matters of national security, our government must speak with one voice - a knowledgable voice that can provide accurate information to the American people. This amendment represents an important step in that direction.