We have completed an audit of the fugitive task forces within the FBI's Safe Streets initiative. Total operating costs, during FY 1995 (latest available data), were $112.5 million or 5.3 percent of the total FY 1995 FBI budget.


The overall purpose of this audit was to determine areas where the Bureau could improve the management of its Safe Streets fugitive task forces in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Specifically, our objectives were to:

(1) Review the criteria and process used by the FBI for establishing and managing fugitive task forces, including methods used to avoid duplicating existing law enforcement activities;

(2) Determine the FBI's methods of evaluating the success and effectiveness of individual task forces; and

(3) Determine the adequacy of supporting documentation for non-personnel task force expenses, such as rental of vehicles and pagers, and state/local officer overtime payments.


We performed the audit work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards, and accordingly, included such tests of the records and procedures as we considered necessary.

The audit scope included the operations and management of Safe Streets task forces that were actively pursuing violent state and local fugitives. It covered the period from the beginning of the initiative in January 1992 through FY 1996, but concentrated on FYs 1995 and 1996.

We selected and reviewed 20 task forces [A listing of these sites appears at Appendix IV.] that target, in whole or in part, individuals wanted for violent crimes. These locations were selected based on FBI management concerns, as well as task forces' size and make up. The reviews consisted of evaluating task force MOUs, crime studies, security clearances, deputations, and expenditures for overtime and expenses. In addition, a judgmental sample of 933 official case files, 403 open and 530 closed cases, were reviewed. [A summary of the case file reviews is shown on Appendix III.] We concentrated on cases opened between January 1, 1996 and June 30, 1996.

We interviewed individuals connected to the initiative in Headquarters and field offices including personnel at the: FBI, USMS, Drug Enforcement Administration, Executive Office for United States Attorneys, Office of Justice Programs/Bureau of Justice Assistance, and state and local law enforcement agencies. In total, we interviewed 242 individuals.

Further, we obtained and analyzed the universe of outstanding warrants for individuals wanted for violent crimes registered in the NCIC system as of September 25, 1996. In our judgment, this data should correlate to the pool of cases to be worked by the task forces because the main reason a law enforcement agency would enter a warrant in the NCIC database parallel the factors comprising ideal task force cases. These include violence, possibility of flight, and inability of the local agency to apprehend the individual. Additionally, the fugitive task forces receive a printout each month of new warrants entered in the NCIC.

The NCIC data included 133,632 total records. However, 1,182 records were not included in our analysis because they originated outside of the United States or the county of origin could not be determined. Therefore, 132,450 records were included in our analysis. Using the originating agency identifier code of each active warrant record, we identified the county of the issuing agency.

The NCIC is the only comprehensive nationwide database of wanted persons available. The database is widely used and relied upon within the law enforcement community for many purposes, including the identification of wanted individuals. However, because data inputs and updates to the system are highly decentralized throughout the law enforcement community, the database may not represent the complete universe of violent crime warrants. To achieve the audit's objectives, we relied on computer-processed data contained in NCIC. We performed sufficient tests of the NCIC system to conclude the data were sufficiently reliable to be used in meeting our objectives.