The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ and Federal
Bureau of Investigation’s Arson and Explosives Intelligence Databases
Audit Report 05-01
Office of the Inspector General
In its September 27, 2004, response to the draft report, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) indicated that it has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with all Bombing and Arson Tracking System (BATS) users that requires adherence to set standards. Additionally, the ATF has provided all users with a guide containing standards on how to populate the database with arson incidents and suspected misuse of explosives. Furthermore, the ATF said it will periodically review a statistical sample of the data contained within BATS to check for adherence to the requirements prescribed in the MOU.
In its September 23, 2004, response to the draft report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agreed with our conclusion that duplication of effort between the FBI and the ATF in compiling and disseminating data on explosives incidents results in confusion and inconsistency. However, despite the Attorney General's memo of August 11, 2004, which directed the Department to consolidate the arson and explosive incidents databases under the ATF, the FBI disagreed with recommendation 1, stating, "We disagree, however, with the OIG's recommendation in the first paragraph on page 37, that the databases of the FBI and BATFE should be consolidated under the BATFE." Additionally, the FBI commented on other issues in the report. These issues are addressed below:
Executive Summary. Our draft report stated that the FBI does not normally receive and record arson-only incidents. The FBI commented that the Uniform Crime Reporting Act of 1988, 28 U.S.C. 534, and 28 C.F.R. 0.85 (f) clarifies that the FBI is directed to compile criminal statistics (including arson statistics) from federal, state, and local agencies and operate a central clearinghouse for police statistics under the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Additionally, the FBI commented that the FBI's Uniform Crime Report Program routinely shares arson statistics with the ATF. On the basis of the FBI's comments, we revised the Executive Summary to show that the Bomb Data Center (BDC), rather than the FBI as a whole, normally does not receive and record arson-only incidents.
Automated Incident Reporting System (AIRS). The FBI stated in its response that the COBRA system was implemented in 1998. In addition, the FBI said it had provided all of the more than 440 accredited bomb squads in the United States with a COBRA system with which they have had the ability to enter data directly into AIRS since 1999. We added the FBI's comments to the report.
The FBI also stated in its response that since AIRS is a direct entry system available to every bomb squad and the ATF's BATS is a pilot project available to only two departments, the Department should continue to use AIRS. However, the FBI's response also indicated that direct entry into AIRS is optional. In fact, we found that thousands of entries in AIRS were made by BDC and contract staff who transcribed data from hard copies submitted by contributing agencies. In addition, an October 1, 2004, FBI memorandum indicated that no data in the COBRA system was in the AIRS database yet, but that data would be converted and downloaded into AIRS over the next 60 days.
Finally, the FBI commented on our statement that, "On August 19, 2004, FBI officials indicated they did not want to include subject and suspect data, or data related to juveniles," in a consolidated database. The FBI does not feel the Internet is an appropriately secure means of interagency transmission of criminal investigative information, particularly information that identifies subjects, suspects, victims, witnesses, and juveniles. We agree and clarified footnote 18 accordingly.
The status of each recommendation, and the action needed to close the report, are summarized below. Recommendation 1 was directed to the Department. Recommendation 2 was directed to ATF, and recommendations 3 and 4 were directed to the FBI.