The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosivesí
National Integrated Ballistic Information Network Program

Audit Report 05-30
June 2005
Office of the Inspector General


Appendix XVI

Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division,
Analysis and Summary of Actions Necessary to Close the Report


We provided the draft report to the ATF for comment. The ATF’s response, included in this report as Appendix XV, agrees with each of our recommendations and proposes corrective action sufficient to resolve the recommendations. Our analysis of the status of the recommendations begins on page 141 of this appendix.

In its response to the draft audit report, the ATF stated that our use of the Originating Agency Reporting Identifier (ORI) number as the statistical basis to evaluate technology allocation, program utilization, and performance was misleading because a single agency can have numerous ORI numbers assigned to it. For example, the ATF stated that the ATF alone has over 362 ORI numbers, many of the larger NIBIN partner agencies have multiple ORI numbers, and all local law enforcement agencies have at least one ORI number, regardless of size.

We disagree with the ATF’s contention that it is misleading to use ORI numbers as a basis to evaluate technology allocation, program utilization, and performance. We reported that as of January 2005, the NIBIN program had been deployed to 231 of the 38,717 law enforcement agencies or divisions of law enforcement agencies that had received an ORI number from the FBI. The 38,717 agencies or divisions of agencies were contained in the ATF’s NIBIN database and used as the basis for NIBIN users to select the ORI number applicable to the agency, or agency division, submitting evidence for entry into NIBIN. At the end of our audit, NIBIN officials expressed to us concern about ORI numbers and said that a more realistic number of law enforcement agencies nation-wide was about 17,000. We asked the NIBIN officials for documentation to support the 17,000 number, but they could not provide support. Because 38,717 is the actual total of ORI numbers maintained in NIBIN as potential contributors of evidence into NIBIN, we continue to believe in the use of this number as a basis to evaluate technology allocation, program utilization, and performance.

The status of the recommendations and the actions necessary to close the recommendations are presented below.

  1. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s concurrence with the recommendation. However, the ATF’s response did not adequately address actions it will take.

    The ATF response stated that the volume of ballistic evidence submissions for NIBIN entry cannot be the sole reason for deploying equipment to an agency and that numerous agencies identified as non-partner, high-usage agencies do not have forensic laboratories or the necessary staff that can support deployment of the IBIS equipment. The ATF also noted that some states, such as Virginia , have laboratory systems that support other law enforcement agencies with forensic evidence. Finally, the ATF indicated that without increased funding, the NIBIN Branch cannot purchase additional equipment to deploy to more agencies.

    Our report does not state that the volume of ballistic evidence submissions for NIBIN entry should be the sole reason for deploying equipment to an agency. We understand and accept that multiple factors must be considered in determining whether high-usage, non-partner agencies should be provided IBIS equipment. Also, some factors, such as lack of laboratory staff or equipment, may be overcome with the ATF’s assistance in helping the agencies obtain funding through grants or other means, as the ATF indicated in its response to Recommendation 11. To implement this recommendation, the ATF needs to evaluate the circumstances surrounding each high-usage, non-partner agency to determine whether IBIS equipment should be deployed to the agency. If the ATF determines that it would be more cost effective and efficient for the non-partner agency to have its own IBIS equipment, the ATF should either redistribute equipment from low-usage partner agencies or request funding in its budget to purchase the additional equipment.

    The ATF response also stated that the NIBIN Program Office is addressing the issue of redistributing IBIS equipment from low-usage partner agencies. The ATF indicated that policies are in place to address low usage and that the ATF will continue to monitor low-usage sites and make determinations as to whether the equipment should remain.

    We noted in the audit report that the ATF has implemented a system to monitor low-usage of partner agencies. However, the system only involved looking at low-usage partner agencies to determine whether they were effectively utilizing the equipment. The ATF did not perform routine analyses to determine whether high-usage, non-partner agencies could benefit from having their own IBIS equipment.

    The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing that the ATF has: (1) analyzed the high-usage, non-partner agencies to determine if any issues exist that could preclude the agencies from receiving IBIS equipment; (2) determined whether remedies exist to resolve these issues; and (3) either identified equipment from low-usage partner agencies that could be redistributed to eligible high-usage, non-partner agencies or included funding in its budget to purchase additional IBIS equipment for the eligible high-usage, non-partner agencies.

  2. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to identify the NIBIN partner sites needing direction for executing regional and national database searches and to provide remedial instruction to those partner sites. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  3. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) perform random site audits to verify that NIBIN users are following the data entry protocols and procedures; and (2) reiterate the best practices identified during the site audits to the other users through on-site training, professional conferences, and meetings. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  4. Resolved. The ATF’s response to the draft audit report stated that the software configuration for the NIBIN equipment will not allow a user to enter duplicate case identification numbers. However, our audit disclosed that, contrary to the ATF’s assertion, two NIBIN partner agencies (Colorado Bureau of Investigation – Montrose and Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory) entered duplicate case identification numbers for its own cases. As a consequence, it was impossible to link the cases table to the evidence table for these agencies. A total of 2,801 records in the cases table for these two agencies contained duplicate case identification numbers. Of the total, 478 records were from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation – Montrose and 2,323 records were from the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory.

    This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to review data from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation – Montrose and the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory to identify cases that necessitate electronic consolidation. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing that the ATF has taken the planned actions and has corrected the duplicate case identification numbers in NIBIN.

  5. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s response showing it has reviewed the 12 agencies with high hit rates and determined that the high hit rates resulted because more than 50 percent of the images entered into NIBIN were evidence images, as opposed to non-evidence images from test-fired guns. The ATF determined that partner laboratories with lower hit rates were found to have an abundance of test-fire images and not evidence images from crimes in NIBIN. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation that the ATF has informed all the partner agencies of the results of their review and stressed to the partner agencies the importance of entering as much crime evidence into NIBIN as possible.

  6. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) evaluate ways to better utilize its resources to provide greater outreach and promote greater utilization of the system, (2) determine ways in which non-partner agencies may have greater accessibility to the program through either existing NIBIN partner agencies or future system deployments, and (3) assess different ways in which NIBIN partner agencies may better recruit non-partner agencies within their regions. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  7. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) periodically poll NIBIN users for their recommendations on possible IBIS equipment and software enhancements; (2) consider all user recommendations in its technological and operational decision-making process; and (3) assess new ballistic imaging products, such as “BrassTrax” (an automated system for entering cartridge casings), for possible inclusion into the NIBIN inventory. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  8. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to evaluate and test replacement units for the current RBI units to ascertain whether the replacement units meet NIBIN program standards and user needs. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  9. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) reiterate to users “best practices” for data entry and evaluation; (2) use venues such as regional user meetings, the National Users Congress, NIBIN contractor conference, and the NIBIN web site for stressing the importance of timely and accurate entry and correlation of both evidence and non-evidence entries; and (3) continue monitoring acquisition and non-viewed correlation reports to determine partner agencies with backlogs. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  10. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) monitor non-viewed correlation reports, in conjunction with monthly user data acquisition reports, to ensure correlation data is being assessed in a timely manner; and (2) continue monitoring acquisition and non-viewed correlation reports to determine partner agencies with backlogs. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  11. Resolved. In its response, the ATF indicated that in the past it has assisted partner agencies by sending IBIS Specialists, Firearms Examiners, Field Division staff, and NIBIN contractor staff to various sites to inventory backlogs, image ballistic evidence into NIBIN, and review correlation results. However, the ATF stated that it does not have the staff or budget to provide such assistance on a continuing basis. The ATF also stated that several ATF Field Divisions have assisted State and local agencies with grant applications under Project Safe Neighborhoods to secure funding for additional laboratory positions and equipment. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s agreement to: (1) assist and support partner agencies in securing funding wherever available to obtain staff and equipment to help reduce the backlog of firearms evidence awaiting entry into NIBIN, and (2) work with the NIBIN contractor to ensure that partner agencies have a seamless network on which to operate the IBIS equipment. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.

  12. Resolved. This recommendation is resolved based on the ATF’s statement that it: (1) is presently conducting a pilot program in its Columbus, Ohio, Field Division to determine the most effective and efficient method to not only enter all ballistic evidence into NIBIN as required by the Attorney General’s and the Secretary of the Treasury’s January 19, 2001, memoranda, but also to enter test-fires of all weapons taken into ATF custody; and (2) will share with other Department of Justice agencies what it learns from the pilot program to help the other agencies establish a protocol for implementing the Attorney General’s directive to participate in the NIBIN program. The recommendation can be closed when we receive documentation showing the ATF has taken the planned actions.



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