How many: There are 72 fusion centers across the country, including the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center. There is at least one in every state, and 22 more in major urban areas.
Cost: The centers have received $426 million in federal funds since 2004.
What they do:
•Receive tips about potential terrorism, crime and suspicious activity from the public and local police agencies, some of which they turn over to the FBI or other federal agencies.
•Based on the "reasonable suspicion standard," they run names through government and commercial databases to help police investigate potential terrorist activity.
•Receive threat intelligence from the Homeland Security Department and push an unclassified version out to state and local law enforcement.
What they don't do:
•Their own operations or investigations.
•Look at bank records, credit card records or other highly personal information.
•Perform surveillance on suspects or groups.
Sources: Homeland Security Department, Government Accountability Office, interviews with fusion center officials.