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Federal Bureau of Investigation Casework and Human Resource Allocation

Report No. 03-37
September 2003
Office of the Inspector General


Chapter 9: Overall Conclusions and Recommendations

Since 1998, according to the FBIís strategic plan, its top priority has been addressing foreign intelligence, terrorist, and criminal activities that directly threaten the national security of the United States.† In May 2002, the FBI Director announced a realignment of the Bureauís top ten priorities that again placed terrorism-related matters at the top.† Despite these stated priorities, we found that prior to 9/11:

  • The FBI utilized more of its agent resources in the White Collar Crime (WCC), Violent Crimes and Major Offenders (VCMO), and Organized Crime/Drugs (OC/D) programs than in those related to terrorism.
  • The terrorism-related programs consistently underutilized their allocated personnel resources at a rate greater than the Bureau as a whole.† In comparison, agent utilization rates in VCMO, Civil Rights (CR), and WCC were significantly higher.
  • Only 4 of the 56 field offices expended more of their agent resources in a terrorism-related program than in any other program.† The remaining 52 field offices predominantly used agent resources in WCC, VCMO, or OC/D.
  • Terrorism-related cases accounted for only 18 percent of those open any time between October 1995 and June 2002.† In contrast, the VCMO program accounted for 25 percent of this universe of cases.

The FBI responded to the 9/11 tragedy with a level of effort unprecedented in its history.† In a comparatively short period of time, the investigation into the attacks became the FBIís largest major case in the past seven years.† Additionally, since 9/11, the FBI has continued to devote more of its time to terrorism-related work than any other single area.

We believe the FBI needs to create an environment in which its operational priorities, in terms of human resource utilization and investigations, consistently coincide with the priorities that it has identified in its strategic plan.† Without such a sustained and systemic effort, there is a possibility that the FBIís priorities and resource allocation could diverge as they did before September 11, 2001.

Based on the issues we observed during our review, we offer the following recommendations to help improve the FBIís management of human resources and casework.

Bureau-wide Comparative Analyses of Human Resource Utilization

FBI program managers currently conduct comparative analyses of human resource utilization to allocations at the program and sub-program level.† This information is used as a tool for monitoring programs, as well as for requesting and allocating resources for field offices.† However, according to FBI officials, the Bureau had never undertaken an overall analysis involving all programs over a period of time.† We believe that the FBI should conduct a review similar to ours on a recurring basis.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI regularly review resource utilization reports for the Bureau as a whole, as well as for the individual investigative programs, and explore additional means of analyzing the Bureauís resource utilization among the various programs.

Level of Effort in the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders (VCMO) Program

The criminal investigations in the VCMO program fall primarily into the third, and lowest, tier of the strategic plan.† Despite this, the FBI consistently overutilized its agent resources in the VCMO program during our review period.† Also, the FBI opened more VCMO cases than in any other program.† Since the Director stressed in May 2002 that the Bureau needed to shift from a reactive force to a proactive one, and this program has consistently been allocated a significant number of agent resources, its resource utilization should be further scrutinized.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI research and implement methods for addressing the overutilization and high allocation of agent resources in the VCMO program.

Rate of Case Openings and Closings Between 1998 and 2001

Generally, the FBI opened and closed fewer cases per month, from FY 1998 through 2001.† Our audit was not designed to identify the cause for these trends.† Considering that the FBIís financial resources have increased over this timeframe and the fewer case openings and closings could be construed as a reduction in productivity, the FBI should examine its overall case activity to identify trends and address matters impacting its productivity.† Further, we found that the rate at which the cases are being closed is falling behind the rate of case openings, resulting in an increasing population of open cases.

  1. We recommend that the FBI perform research to determine why the rate of case openings and closings is decreasing and the population of open cases is increasing.

Timing of Funded Staffing Levels

Funded Staffing Levels (FSL) are set after the budget has been approved by Congress and the Resource Management and Allocation office has performed its analysis and allocated the positions.† Often, this occurs late in the fiscal year.† For example, in FY 2002 the FSLs were not finalized until June 2002, even though the actual realignment of resources in response to 9/11 occurred immediately following the terrorist attacks.† Further, the 2003 FSLs were not established and sent to field offices until May 7, 2003.† However, during the reviews of FBI field offices performed by the Inspection Division, field office management is evaluated on the official FSLs in place, which may be outdated and present a false view of the actual field office utilization rate.† For example, an office that may have been inspected in May 2002 would have been judged on pre‑9/11 FSLs that did not reflect the shift in personnel devoted to terrorism-related programs.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI review the current resource management and allocation process and make necessary changes to ensure that FSL allocations are made in a more timely manner.

Utilization in the Applicant Matters and Training Programs

The FBIís Applicant Matters and Training programs utilized significantly more agent resources than they were allocated during the timeframe we reviewed.† This consistent disparity between planned and actual resource usage exposes an inherent problem in the planning process for these programs.† Further, overutilization in these programs logically results in underutilization in other programs.† The FBI needs to determine the actual resources that these programs require by evaluating the planning factors (e.g., election years, hiring surges) and remedy the process that has resulted in significant differences between resource allocation and utilization.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI review the current planning factors and processes for the Applicant Matters and Training programs to more closely approximate the agent resources they actually need.

Data Errors and Omissions in the ACS System

During our review of data extracted from the ACS system, we identified some errors and omissions in individual case records.† Specifically, some records did not have a program designator or the designator was for a program no longer in existence.† In addition, we found errors related to Preliminary Inquiry (PI) dates, as well as case opening and closing dates.† For example, we discovered cases in which opening dates preceded PI dates, even though case opening dates should follow the date the associated PI was initiated.† ACS officials explained that this sometimes occurred in cases originally opened under the legacy system to ACS, the Field Office Information Management System (FOIMS).† Cases that were closed in FOIMS and then subsequently re-opened in ACS had their case opening dates overwritten by the case re-opening date.† ACS officials also said some of these inconsistencies between case opening dates and PI dates could be attributed to user error or program conversion problems where ACS did not edit the date correctly.† Additionally, officials said that when the system went on line, it converted some case opening dates to the default date of October 1, 1995; they advised that they corrected this problem between three and four years ago.

The FBI is planning to bring a new case management system on line in the near future to replace ACS.† In light of the errors we found in the data and the problems the FBI encountered when switching from FOIMS to ACS, the possibility exists for conversion errors when switching from ACS to the new system.† Therefore, management should take action to ensure that the data is as complete and accurate as possible prior to the implementation of the new system in order to reduce any conversion errors.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI ensure that the data in ACS is complete and accurate prior to converting to a new case management system.

Usefulness of Monthly Administrative Reports from the Automated Case Support (ACS) System

The FBI Headquarters program managers are the primary users of the ACS Monthly Administrative Reports that contain investigative case statistics.† These individuals are also the most knowledgeable about their programs and the tools they find useful in managing their resources and responsibilities.† Our discussions with program managers revealed that several question the utility of the information they receive from the reports.† Further, some stated that the information did not help them in performing their program management duties.† We suggest that the FBI form a committee of program managers to share information and opinions and develop ideas for improving the reports from ACS or the forthcoming case management system.

  1. We recommend that the Director of the FBI revamp the current Monthly Administrative Report format and determine if more useful information can be extracted from the ACS system and be provided to program managers to help them in performing their duties.