Federal Bureau of Investigation Casework and Human Resource Allocation
Report No. 03-37
Office of the Inspector General
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Justice (Department). The agency's mission is to investigate violations of federal criminal law, protect the U.S. from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities, and provide leadership and assistance to other law enforcement agencies. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (hereafter referred to as 9/11), the FBI reallocated its resources to focus more on international and domestic terrorism in order to detect and deter future terrorist acts.
The FBI Director issued a memorandum to all employees in May 2002 reprioritizing the agency's mission, indicating that the FBI would emphasize prevention rather than prosecution by shifting its organizational focus from traditional reactive law enforcement operations to prioritizing intelligence gathering and analysis. The Director noted that counterterrorism is the top priority of every FBI field office. Subsequent to this memorandum, the Director reprogrammed agents assigned in various other law enforcement areas into terrorism-related programs.
This Office of the Inspector General (OIG) review examined the FBI's use of personnel resources in its investigative programs over an almost 7?year period, six years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and nine months after the attacks.1 In addition, we reviewed the FBI's planned allocation of resources during this same October 1995 to June 2002 time period. We also examined the types and numbers of cases the FBI investigated during this period.
Perhaps as important as the results of this review is the fact that this type of detailed statistical analysis of FBI planning, resource usage, and casework had never been undertaken by the FBI. While much of the data examined in this review concerns the period pre-9/11, we believe this review provides helpful information into how the FBI allocated its agent and support resources before, during, and shortly after the 9/11 attacks. We also believe that this analysis, and the techniques used in this analysis, will prove helpful to the FBI as it continues to revisit the balance between its terrorism and non-terrorism-related responsibilities. Details of our audit objectives, scope, and methodology can be found in Appendix I.
According to the FBI's 5-year strategic plan issued in May 1998, the Bureau's highest priority is national and economic security. This is defined as "foreign intelligence, terrorist, and criminal activities that directly threaten the national or economic security of the United States." The strategic plan further states that as a national organization, the FBI must first address those issues that are national in scope and those crimes that threaten the security of the nation. The FBI's plan identified three general functional areas that describe and prioritize the variety of threats that it must address to realize the goal of enhanced national and individual security.
As of June 2002, the FBI classified its investigative activities into ten programs according to the nature of the work. Within each of these programs, the activities are further categorized by an investigative classification and, if appropriate, a sub-program. The programs and their areas of responsibility, as illustrated by the sub-program and investigative classification examples listed, are as follows:
Source: FBI Finance Division and FY 2002 Investigative Classifications booklet
The FBI's Utilization of Personnel Resources
Similarly, in FY 2001 the FBI's non-terrorism programs continued to dominate agent utilization. This situation changed dramatically in FY 2002 when the number of FBI special agents working on terrorism-related matters more than doubled from the previous year, to 4,680, while the number dedicated to non-terrorism matters fell from 6,449 to 3,976.
FBI Response to 9/11
After 9/11, a large number of FBI personnel were immediately assigned to investigate the attacks. In addition, the newly-appointed FBI Director4 announced that the agency would be undergoing a restructuring, national security would be the agency's top priority, additional agents would be assigned to international and domestic terrorism issues, and the FBI's investigative efforts would be reprioritized.
The FBI's investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, called PENTTBOMB, used enormous personnel resources - as of June 1, 2002, Bureau personnel had charged almost four million work hours to this case, consisting of approximately 3.6 million hours charged by special agents and over 400,000 hours charged by support personnel. The majority of these hours were charged in the weeks immediately following 9/11; after this initial burst of investigative activity the number of work hours expended on terrorism-related matters began decreasing. However, the level of effort expended in the FBI's National Foreign Intelligence Program as of June 1, 2002, remained dramatically higher than the level of effort put forth prior to 9/11. In fact, while most other programs experienced a decrease in agent work hours, NFIP saw an increase of 62 percent from August 2001 to June 1, 2002.
In support of these new priorities, the Director adjusted staffing numbers for each of the investigative program areas, moving agent positions into its NFIP and Domestic Terrorism (DT) programs. This realignment of agent resources, along with new agent positions provided in the FY 2002 budget, resulted in the FBI dedicating 685 additional agents to terrorism-related matters in FY 2002. Primarily, these agents were moved from drug investigations within the FBI's Organized Crime/Drugs program; however, agent positions also were reassigned from its Violent Crimes and Major Offenders (VCMO) and White Collar Crime (WCC) programs.
As shown in the graph on the previous page, the increases in NFIP began in the TURK period in which 9/11 occurred. The increases in agent hours dedicated to terrorism-related matters were a direct result of the catastrophic events of that day. Had 9/11 not occurred, the data indicates that agent utilization in NFIP would have remained unchanged in FY 2001. Consequently, without this major terrorist event, Bureau-wide agent utilization would have remained the same and would not have begun to come into alignment with the strategic plan.
A Program-by-Program Look at the FBI
Before 9/11 and the related FBI restructuring, not only did NFIP utilize a smaller number of agent resources than the WCC and VCMO programs, it also utilized a smaller percentage of its allocated personnel than these other programs. The FBI's Resource Management and Allocation (RMA) office allocates the Bureau's human resources and establishes Funded Staffing Levels (FSLs) for agents and support. Under this system, each FSL equals one person. Program Managers then monitor human resource utilization by comparing Average On Board (AOB) numbers to the number of allocated FSLs. If the AOB number is less than the FSL, the FBI is using fewer human resources than it was allocated, thus underutilizing. If the AOB is greater than the FSL, the FBI is using more human resources than allocated for a particular program area, or overutilizing.
Using data from the FBI's TURK system, we calculated annual AOB totals for special agent personnel5 for the FBI as a whole and for the individual FBI programs. We then compared the annualized AOB data to the annual FSL data for FYs 1996 through 2001. We found that the FBI generally underutilized its agent resources in FYs 1996 through 2001; an occurrence that most FBI officials we interviewed attributed to vacancies. The following matrix provides a summary of our program-level analysis. The yellow shading indicates underutilization while the blue shading indicates overutilization.
FBI SPECIAL AGENT UTILIZATION
Our comparison of agent resource utilization at the program level revealed that although utilization varied among criminal investigative programs, only the VCMO program lacked a period of underutilization that reflected the trend for the Bureau as a whole. Instead, the VCMO program overutilized its agent resources for each year in the reviewed timeframe. In addition, the terrorism-related programs (NFIP, NIPCIP, and DT) and the Organized Crime/Drugs (OC/D) program underutilized its agent resources at a rate much greater than the overall Bureau-wide underutilization.
Further, the non-criminal investigative programs of Applicant Matters and Training utilized considerably more resources than allocated on a consistent basis.8 According to FBI officials, this occurred because these programs support all other programs. For example, the officials advised that much of the work in the Applicant program was dedicated to the recruitment and hiring of new personnel for all areas, and personnel in all programs charged time to Training, regardless of the program to which they were dedicated. We have recommended that the FBI examine the planning factors and processes for these programs and make necessary adjustments to more closely approximate the agent resources they need.
FBI Field Offices: Investigative Programs Receiving the Most Resources
The historical trend of low agent resource utilization in the FBI's terrorism-related programs also is evident in the results of our analysis of FBI field office data. To determine how the FBI's program-specific work has been distributed throughout the FBI's field structure, we conducted an annual (by fiscal year) analysis of resource utilization by program for each of the FBI's 56 field offices. For each office, we determined the program that utilized the most agent resources for the most fiscal years during the seven fiscal year periods reviewed, and characterized the office by that program designation. For example, we designated the Albany Field Office as a WCC office, and the Washington, D.C., Field Office as an NFIP office because of the programs in which the predominance of its agent resources were utilized from FY 1996 through June 1, 2002.
Of the 56 FBI field offices, 25 offices expended the most special agent resources in WCC; 16 offices focused on VCMO; 10 offices worked more in OC/D; and the predominant program in 4 offices was NFIP. In the remaining office, agent utilization was distributed evenly between the VCMO and WCC programs. As shown in the following chart, the predominant program in 75 percent of the FBI's field offices was either WCC or VCMO.
Universe of FBI Cases
In addition to our analysis of the FBI's human resource allocation and utilization, we also obtained, from the Bureau's Automated Case Support (ACS) system,9 data of all cases recorded between October 1, 1995, and June 14, 2002. This reflected all cases that were opened during our review period, as well as those that were opened prior to the start of the review period but remained open as of October 1, 1995.
Our analysis of FBI casework revealed that the VCMO program accounted for the most cases worked10 during this timeframe. In fact, one quarter of all the cases the FBI worked during that period were in VCMO. NFIP accounted for 17 percent of the cases while the Domestic Terrorism (DT) program made up only one percent during the same time period. This distribution of cases is shown in the following chart.
Following 9/11 and the FBI's increased attention to national security?related matters, the FBI began opening more terrorism-related investigations. While the average number of case openings per month in the VCMO, WCC, OC/D, and Civil Rights (CR) programs decreased in FY 2002, the average monthly case opening rate in the NFIP and DT programs increased.
Our review of FBI casework also revealed trends in case openings and closings unrelated to 9/11. In general, we identified a downward trend in both the number of cases opened and closed per month. Specifically, between FYs 1997 and 2001 we identified a one-third reduction in case openings, from an average of just over 12,000 cases opened per month in FY 1997 to a little more than 8,000 in FY 2001. This trend reversed in the first eight months of FY 2002 when about 2,000 additional cases per month were opened, many of which were in the NFIP and DT programs.
Our review of case closings revealed a similar trend. Excluding FY 1999, the FBI consistently closed fewer cases per month in each successive fiscal year from 1998 to June 2002. We excluded the FY 1999 data because in April 1999 the FBI administratively closed a large number of inactive cases in preparation for its Year 2000 computer systems conversion.
In reviewing FBI casework, it is important to note that cases in different programs vary significantly in importance and resource commitment. We reviewed the time FBI personnel spent investigating certain significant investigations designated as major cases.11 These are investigations, which, at their outset, are of national importance and/or indicate the potential for a massive commitment of manpower throughout FBI field offices.
Using data from the TURK system, we calculated the hours charged by FBI personnel from October 1995 through June 2002 to all major cases. As detailed in the following table, we found that, by a large margin, the major case utilizing the most combined agent and support resources during that time period has been the investigation of the attacks on 9/11. Further review revealed that 11 of the top 15 major cases, in terms of total FBI personnel hours worked (special agent and support personnel), from October 1995 through June 2002 are related to terrorism.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The FBI's 1998 5-year strategic plan stated that preventing and defeating foreign intelligence, terrorist, and criminal activities that directly threaten the national security of the United States were the Bureau's highest priorities. However, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks 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 programs related to terrorism. To its credit, the Bureau responded to the 9/11 tragedy with an unprecedented level of effort. Additionally, as time progressed and the amount of resources dedicated to the PENTTBOMB investigation decreased, FBI personnel continued to devote more time to terrorism-related matters in general than any other single area, thus bringing the Bureau's operations into closer alignment with its strategic plan.
We believe the FBI needs to ensure that its operational priorities, in terms of human resource utilization and investigations, consistently coincide with the priorities that are established through the strategic planning process. Based on the issues we identified in this report, we offer seven recommendations to improve the FBI's management of human resources and casework. Our recommendations focus on encouraging the FBI to review systematically its personnel allocation process and its methods for evaluating human resource utilization. The FBI should also examine the decreasing rate of case openings and closings and the increasing population of open cases to identify the causes of these recent trends. We believe it is important that the FBI closely review the information we have provided and address weaknesses in its human resource allocation and utilization processes as well as the recent trends in its casework, to help ensure that Bureau activities do not differ widely from its strategic plan.
REDACTED AND UNCLASSIFIED