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 IX

NIBIN Support

The ATF provides customer support to NIBIN partner agencies through a contractor (Forensic Technology, Inc.). The ATF also provides field support through a network of support representatives that include both ATF and contract personnel. These support systems are discussed below.

Customer Service/Support

The ATF uses a contractor to provide program and project management oversight. The services provided by the contractor include:

  • scheduling contract activities,
  • offering customer service support and engineering,
  • developing new hardware and software,
  • maintaining the hardware and software,
  • training,
  • contingency/backup planning,
  • providing disaster recovery and data restoration, and
  • maintaining documentation to support the IBIS equipment.

The contractor conducts a training class to prepare NIBIN partners to enter firearms evidence into NIBIN. The contractor also monitors the IBIS equipment and provides preventative maintenance services. Further, the contractor administers scheduled upgrades of NIBIN.

The training offered by the contractor ensures that each partner has the knowledge and ability to be proficient in the operation of the IBIS equipment deployed within their agencies. The training includes: (1) initial/basic user training upon the receipt and installation of new equipment, (2) advanced user training offered to established users with prior experience, and (3) IBIS equipment administration training for users who perform administrative functions.

The initial/basic user training ensures that users become proficient in system components and functionality; case creation; cartridge case acquisition; correlation, scoring and comparisons; bullet acquisition; damaged bullet and fragment acquisition scoring and manual correlations; hit creation; reporting; and practical application of acquired knowledge and understanding.

The advanced user training is offered as a refresher training following upgrades to the IBIS equipment. This training reinforces concepts and elements from the basic user training and presents more detailed expert instructions. The training also provides a refresher of the topics covered in the basic user training along with training for upgrades to the IBIS equipment.

IBIS system/administration training assists users who will perform system administrative functions; issue and manage user or administrator accounts; perform backup functions; and help with any other IBIS equipment in support of some disaster recovery and data restoration actions.

NIBIN Field Support

The ATF established field level staffing for the NIBIN program to provide assistance in the administration at the field level. Support at the field level is thought to be crucial to the success of the program. The field level support is offered through: (1) regional coordinators, (2) NIBIN coordinators, (3) NIBIN contractors, and (4) the NIBIN Users Congress.

    Regional Coordinators

    The regional coordinators act on behalf of the NIBIN headquarters office in Washington, D.C., within their respective regions. The regional coordinators also:

    • act as the liaison between NIBIN headquarters and field divisions within their prescribed area of responsibility;
    • act as the liaison between NIBIN headquarters, assigned coordinators, and contractors within the field divisions;
    • act as the liaison between NIBIN headquarters and the state and local governments within their prescribed region of responsibility;
    • provide presentations and training on behalf of NIBIN headquarters to various audiences, including federal, state, and local government officials at conferences and meetings;
    • market the NIBIN program on behalf of NIBIN headquarters at conferences and meetings;
    • provide feedback to NIBIN headquarters and to the manufacturer of the IBIS equipment, on the utilization of the equipment in the field, as well as the problems associated with the equipment by the laboratories;
    • authorize and schedule training for the local users involved in the NIBIN program;
    • participate in the dissemination of the IBIS equipment by meeting with management at prospective sites;
    • tour the laboratory sites to determine if they meet the pre-defined criteria of the NIBIN headquarters’ standards of use, and if justified, coordinate delivery and placement of the equipment;
    • act as the representative for the assigned area of responsibility at the NIBIN Users Congress meetings;
    • manage the NIBIN program and provide guidance through regular interaction and communication with the NIBIN coordinators, contractors, and field divisions within each area of responsibility;
    • act as liaison with state and local law enforcement executives to discuss the need for the utilization of IBIS and the NIBIN program;
    • visit all NIBIN sites within each regional coordinator’s area of responsibility to discuss usage of the program within that area;
    • provide support to each field division as it relates to the special agent-in-charge’s goals and objectives, keeping an emphasis on the NIBIN program and its priorities;
    • inform state and local agencies, in conjunction with the field division, of various federal grants available to assist them with the NIBIN program;
    • assist the field divisions, when requested, by assigning ATF employees to local NIBIN coordinator positions;
    • attend, and assist in the development of local users meetings within each area;
    • visit and support the local laboratories and act as a liaison between the laboratories and the coordinators/field divisions;
    • support and assist in initiating criminal investigations where NIBIN may play a role;
    • maintain daily e-mail and telephone contact with the local coordinators and contractors within the regional coordinators’ areas of responsibility;
    • review the hit reports and make recommendations for further investigative courses of action;
    • provide NIBIN training and marketing materials to the field divisions and law enforcement entities within their areas of responsibility; and
    • provide general troubleshooting, if required.

    NIBIN Special Agent Coordinators

    The NIBIN special agent coordinators work with the NIBIN contractors to ensure that the NIBIN program is succeeding in their region of responsibility. The special agent coordinators also represent the ATF at laboratories and at state and local partner agencies. The special agent coordinators perform this duty in addition to their regular duties. The special agent coordinators:

    • coordinate and conduct all investigative activity associated with the NIBIN program;
    • conduct quality control activities involving ATF-owned inventories;
    • coordinate intelligence information with other ATF field divisions and local police departments;
    • provide roll-call training on the benefits of participating in the program and emphasize processing as much evidence as possible;
    • ensure that performance measurement data is transmitted regularly to NIBIN headquarters;
    • direct and review the activities of the NIBIN contractor; and
    • verify the hours worked by the NIBIN contractor.

    NIBIN Contractors

    The NIBIN contractors are assigned to the field divisions to provide immediate assistance to the partner agencies. These individuals are usually retired law enforcement personnel. The NIBIN contractors report to the NIBIN coordinator at the field division level. The NIBIN contractors:

    • assist the NIBIN coordinator in roll-call training and inventory control;
    • obtain statistical data from NIBIN partner agencies on a monthly basis and troubleshoot potential problems with the IBIS equipment;
    • report outcomes of hits generated, by contacting and linking affected law enforcement agencies; preparing case synopses involving hits; and reporting arrests; and
    • encourage law enforcement agencies to submit evidence to participating laboratories.

    NIBIN Users Congress

    To offer additional support at the field level, the NIBIN Users Congress was established in November 2002. The NIBIN Users Congress is comprised of a representative from a partner agency from each region and is responsible for: (1) advising program participants on policies and standards, (2) seeking out and publicizing best practices for implementation, and (3) assisting in audits of NIBIN sites.

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