The External Effects of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Reprioritization Efforts
(Redacted for Public Release)
Audit Report 05-37
Office of the Inspector General
The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) is the primary component within the FBI responsible for overseeing FBI investigations of traditional crimes such as narcotics trafficking and violent crime. According to the FBI, the CID revised its organizational structure during FY 2004 in an effort to better reflect current trends in criminal activity.
The CID addresses issues four through eight of the FBI’s national priorities (listed on page 2 in Chapter 1). The organizational structure of the CID consists of branches, which are further separated into sections and units that focus on specific crime areas. Prior to the FY 2004 reorganization, the CID’s structure consisted of two branches: (1) Integrity in Government/Civil Rights, Financial Crimes, & Operational Support; and (2) Drug, Organized Crime, Violent Crimes and Major Offenders, and Criminal Intelligence.18 The restructuring involved a realignment of sections and units within two newly named branches: (1) National Crimes, and (2) Criminal Enterprise. Exhibit 2-1, on the following page, presents the current organizational structure of the CID.
Generally, the sections within each branch remained intact after the restructuring process. However, the Violent Crimes Section was moved from the new Criminal Enterprise Branch to the National Crimes Branch. Other than this shift, the National Crimes Branch (previously called the Integrity in Government/Civil Rights, Financial Crimes, & Operational Support Branch) did not experience further revisions.
The Criminal Enterprise Branch experienced more significant change than the National Crimes Branch. One of the primary modifications was the creation of the Americas Criminal Enterprise Section (ACES), which addresses drugs, gangs, and major thefts, and the Transnational Criminal Enterprise Section (TCES), which continues to investigate organized crime matters. These sections were formerly known as the Drug Section and Organized Crime (OC) Section.
In addition to its restructuring, the Criminal Enterprise Branch also experienced a major management policy change. In February 2004, the FBI Director approved the implementation of the Criminal Enterprise Plan, a strategy that provided the impetus for restructuring the CID.19 Essentially, the Criminal Enterprise Branch attempted to pool resources to enable the FBI to more effectively investigate criminal enterprises.
The CID previously operated with separate squads designated to oversee investigations of specific crimes using a set number of resources. However, with reduced criminal resources, the FBI has focused its investigations on higher-threat targets, particularly criminal enterprise organizations. The FBI concluded that most of today’s criminal enterprises could not be addressed simply by crime type, as these organizations usually perpetrate a variety of crimes. Therefore, field agents are no longer allocated specifically to drug, organized crime, major theft, or street gang investigations. Beginning in FY 2005, these resources are considered as one allocation – called criminal enterprise – enabling field managers to assign staff to investigations according to case needs and an assessment of local threats.
According to a senior CID manager, the Criminal Enterprise Plan concept establishes a new mindset for the FBI. In the past, Special Agents in Charge (SAC) monitored “burn rates” to ensure they were utilizing agents at expected levels for distinct crime problems.20 However, the FBI reported that SACs were constantly frustrated trying to monitor burn rates while also attacking the most prominent crime threats. The Criminal Enterprise Plan attempts to alleviate this situation by providing field offices the flexibility to utilize resources to attack poly-criminal enterprise operations. According to senior CID officials, under the enterprise approach field office managers can assess the different facets of a case and assign agents with the requisite experience and skills to conduct the investigation. For example, using the criminal enterprise resource approach to investigate a street gang involved in theft, drugs, violence, and identity theft, a field office can develop a squad with expertise in each of those areas, similar to how the FBI creates an internal task force.
The Criminal Enterprise Plan was a major catalyst in restructuring the CID in that it realigned units and sections of the FBI. According to the FBI, the approach enabled a more fluid resource management approach to addressing criminal enterprise organizations, affording FBI field divisions flexibility in combating traditional crime problems with fewer resources.