The Internal Effects of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Reprioritization

Audit Report 04-39
September 2004
Office of the Inspector General

Redacted and Unclassified

Chapter 1: Introduction

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has initiated a large-scale reorganization and reprioritization. In connection with this, a significant portion of the FBI's agents and support personnel have been reassigned to terrorism-related matters. The objective of this audit was to identify internal operational changes in the FBI resulting from its ongoing reorganization and reprioritization efforts, including the types of offenses that the FBI no longer investigates at pre-9/11 levels.

Jurisdiction and Organizational Structure

The FBI is the lead investigative agency of the United States Department of Justice, responsible for enforcing over 200 federal laws. It has the broadest jurisdiction of any federal law enforcement agency and is charged with counterterrorism and counterintelligence responsibilities, as well as the investigation of criminal matters in the areas of civil rights, cyber crime, organized crime, drugs, violent crime, and white-collar crime.

The FBI is a field-based law enforcement agency, with its executive management located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition to its headquarters, the FBI is composed of 56 field offices, approximately 400 resident agencies (smaller, satellite offices), 46 Legal Attaché offices, and several additional, specialized facilities. The specialized facilities include the FBI Laboratory, the FBI Academy, and the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG). Personnel at FBI Headquarters generally provide program direction and investigative support to FBI field components. As of May 31, 2004, the FBI employed 12,031 agents and 16,243 support personnel.

FBI Programs

The FBI operates within a framework of programs, sub programs, and investigative classifications by which it allocates agent resources to field offices, tracks the time of most field employees, and classifies cases. This three tiered organizational system includes 12 programs that reflect general crime areas and several administrative functions.3 A program is the most general category by which information is gathered, maintained, and tracked within the FBI. The next level, which is more specific, is the sub-program. There are a total of 51 sub programs that fall within ten programs; neither the Civil Rights nor Miscellaneous programs have sub programs. The most specific level that information is organized is an investigative classification. At the end of FY 2003, there were 751 investigative classifications. A crosswalk of FBI programs and sub-programs is located in Appendix III.

The FBI's program structure often changes to incorporate new investigative areas or to rename and consolidate existing investigative efforts and administrative functions. For example, during FY 2003 the FBI added two new programs, two new sub programs, and eight new investigative classifications. Further, the FBI may reduce the number of classifications it currently maintains. In a memorandum issued in May 2003, the FBI Director described the list of investigative classifications as "cumbersome," and stated that his goal is to reduce the list by at least 20 percent.

FBI Transformation

In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI Director initiated a transformation that overhauled FBI management, created a new ranking of priorities to drive FBI investigations, and formally shifted a significant number of agents from traditional criminal investigative work to counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters. According to the Director, each of these changes was designed to reshape the FBI into an organization better able to combat the imminent terrorist threat and to prevent another terrorist attack against the United States. A timeline of the FBI's transformation is shown in Exhibit 1 1.


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Reorganization - The FBI restructured by merging or transferring several organizational components, dissolving other components, and creating new components. In addition, it created a new level of executive management, which consisted of five new Executive Assistant Director (EAD) positions. This supervisory level was placed between the office of the Deputy Director and most of the FBI's operational divisions and offices.4

Reprioritization - In addition to creating a new organizational structure, the Director determined that a new set of priorities clearly detailing FBI responsibilities should be established to shift the FBI from a traditional criminal investigative agency to one designed to combat terrorism. In May 2002 the FBI issued a ranked list of top ten priorities to focus FBI efforts on areas that other law enforcement agencies could not effectively address and that the FBI was in a unique position to handle. These new priorities listed prevention of a terrorist attack as the FBI's top priority, and also provided a roadmap for the FBI to evolve into a new, intelligence driven law enforcement agency. A more detailed discussion of the new FBI priorities is contained in Chapter 2.

Additionally, in March 2004 the FBI formally issued its new strategic plan. The plan, which had last been updated in 1998, refers to the events of 9/11 and provides background on the FBI's transformational process since that date, specifically referencing how the FBI has adopted the concept of reengineering in order to effect change. Specifically, the plan discusses: 1) the FBI's intelligence-based forecast for the next five years in each of its priority areas; 2) the recruitment, hiring, training, and development of employees; and 3) the tools the FBI needs to achieve its goals, including information technology, investigative technology, communication systems, and security. Additionally, the largest part of the plan, organized along the lines of the FBI's priorities, articulates ten strategic goals the FBI must accomplish in order to achieve its mission. Each goal contains objectives and performance goals that must be met for the FBI to achieve success.

Reprogramming - To focus the FBI's efforts on terrorism and align its resources along the FBI's new priorities, in May 2002 the FBI Director formally reprogrammed more than 500 agents from traditional criminal investigative areas into terrorism related programs. Most of these agents were moved from drug, violent crime, and white collar crime matters to terrorism related programs. The FBI's drug related work was most impacted, with the transfer of 400 agents. The Director stated that he made his reprogramming decisions after consultation with his executive management staff (including the Special Agents in Charge (SACs) of all field offices), as well as the United States Attorney's Offices, Congress, and the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The May 2002 reprogramming is discussed in detail in Chapter 2.

Prior Reviews

We previously audited the FBI's casework and resource utilization, issuing a report in September 2003.5 We found that prior to 9/11, although the FBI stated that its top priority was terrorism related work, the FBI utilized more of its agent resources in traditional criminal investigative areas, such as white-collar crime, violent crime, and organized crime/drugs than in terrorism programs. We also found that agent usage in terrorism related areas significantly increased in the immediate weeks following 9/11, and after the initial flurry of activity, resource usage related to terrorism stabilized at a level higher than prior to 9/11. In that review, we made several recommendations to the FBI, including that the Director explore additional means of analyzing the FBI's resource utilization among its various programs.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) also reported on the status of the FBI Reorganization in June 2003.6 The GAO determined that progress had been made in the FBI's efforts to transform itself, but major challenges remained. Specifically, the GAO found that a comprehensive transformation plan with key milestones and assessment points to guide its overall transformation plans was still needed. The GAO noted that the FBI had not yet completed an update of its strategic plan and had not yet developed a human capital plan.7 According to the GAO, the FBI faced challenges in using personnel from other criminal investigative programs to address counterterrorism matters and the FBI did not possess adequate numbers of analytical, technical, and administrative support personnel.

Audit Approach

The purpose of this audit was to review further the FBI's internal changes resulting from its post-9/11 reprioritization and reorganization. Specifically, we sought to identify the investigative areas that experienced the greatest increases or reductions and then measure the level of change in both funded and utilized agent resources in these areas. To accomplish this, we reviewed planning documents and analyzed resource allocation utilization and casework data. In addition, we interviewed more than 40 officials at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the FBI Academy and Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia; and the Critical Incident Response Group in Aquia, Virginia.

In the wake of 9/11, vast amounts of resources from all FBI program areas were dedicated to assist in the investigations of the terrorist attacks. This caused resource utilization and casework data at the end of FY 2001 and throughout the first half of FY 2002 to be skewed towards terrorism related matters. Therefore, in order to conduct better comparisons of FBI data, we eliminated FYs 2001 and 2002 from many of our evaluations, and instead concentrated on comparing FY 2000 data to FY 2003 data. Although our review period encompassed the entire period of September 26, 1999, through September 20, 2003, our decision to focus on FYs 2000 and 2003 in many of our analyses afforded a better "before" and "after" view into the FBI's reprioritization efforts.8

The results of our review are detailed in Chapters 2 through 5, while the audit scope and methodology are contained in Appendix I. Specifically, in Chapter 2 we reviewed the steps the FBI took in implementing its new set of priorities and analyzed how this translated into funded agent and support positions in field offices and at FBI Headquarters. We also obtained from the FBI's timekeeping system data for on board agent and support personnel for FYs 2000 through 2003. In Chapter 3 we analyzed changes at the program, sub program, and investigative classification level to determine how the new list of priorities affected the FBI's human resource utilization. We also identified the investigative classifications in which the greatest resource usage changes occurred during our review period. In addition, we obtained a universe of field office cases from the FBI's Automated Case Support (ACS) system for FYs 2000 through 2003, and reviewed them for changes that reflected the FBI's new priorities.

In line with our objective to identify those areas in which the FBI had reduced its effort, we focused on those criminal investigative matters in which the largest reductions in resource usage occurred. This included in depth analyses on each of these areas to determine how the FBI's shift in priorities affected investigative work performed in the program area. The results of these analyses can be found in Chapter 4.9


  1. The 12 programs cover the following areas: national foreign intelligence, domestic terrorism, computer intrusion, white-collar crime, organized crime and drugs, violent crime, cyber crime, criminal enterprises, civil rights, training, applicants, and miscellaneous matters. A description of each program is contained in Appendix II.

  2. The FBI's current organizational structure was formally approved by the Attorney General on March 4, 2004. An organizational chart depicting this structure is contained in Appendix IV, while an organizational chart depicting the FBI's pre 9/11 structure is contained in Appendix V.

  3. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Audit Report number 03-37, "Federal Bureau of Investigation Casework and Human Resource Utilization," dated September 2003.

  4. U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled "FBI Reorganization: Progress Made in Efforts to Transform, but Major Challenges Continue," report number GAO 03-759T, dated June 18, 2003.

  5. In March 2004, GAO again reported on FBI transformation in its report entitled "FBI Transformation: FBI Continues to Make Progress in Its Efforts to Transform and Address Priorities," report number GAO-04-578T, dated March 23, 2004. GAO reviewed the FBI's new strategic and human capital plans, and reported that the FBI was continuing to make progress in its efforts to transform. However, the GAO noted that while the FBI had instituted a number of separate reengineering projects, it still did not have an overall transformation plan.

  6. According to the FBI's Time Utilization and Recordkeeping (TURK) system, FY 2000 began on September 26, 1999, and FY 2003 ended on September 20, 2003.

  7. In addition to the analyses presented in the body of this report, we also provided FBI management with several charts under separate cover. These charts, which contain more detailed information regarding the changes in on board agents and casework experienced by each FBI field office during our review period, are found in Supplemental Appendices I through III.

Redacted and Unclassified