The Department of Justice's Terrorism Task Forces

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-007
June 2005
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix XIV

FBI Response

  U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington, D. C. 20535-0001

May 17, 2005

The Honorable Paul A. Price
Assistant Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
Evaluation and Inspection Division
Department of Justice
Suite 6100
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Mr. Price:

The Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) have become the "action arm" of the U. S. Government's domestic counterterrorism efforts. Your review of the JTTFs came during a period of rapid expansion. With the support of the administration and the U.S. Congress, the number of JTTFs has been expanded from 66 JTTFs in June 2003 to 103 currently; an increase of 37 over a 2 year period. Subsequent to your review in January 2005, offices were opened in Delaware, Idaho, and New Hampshire. The FBI values the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) review and will incorporate your audit team's recommendations as we continue to build on the success of the National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF), JTTFs, and the Foreign Terrorism Tracking Task Force (FTTTF).

I would like to outline the FBI's plan with regard to the pertinent recommendations:

The FBI concurs with your recommendation that a national training plan should be developed for each Task Force. The FBI does not currently have a standardized training curriculum for the JTTF members, however, basic core function training is provided to Task Force participants. Over the past few years the FBI has worked toward establishing an all encompassing training curriculum. From 2002 to 2005, the FBI's Counterterrorism Division (CTD) , through various components including the NJTTF and the International and Domestic Terrorism Operations Sections, have worked in conjunction with the FBI's Training and Development Division (TDD) to sponsor training on various topics and through various formats. Training provided to date includes familiarization with basic security issues, including the proper classification of intelligence communications, familiarization with the roles, missions, program specific operations of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), the FBI's Automated Case Support (ACS) system, the Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), and the Threat Reporting System (TRS). Further, the FBI has hosted and co-sponsored numerous JTTF national and regional working conferences. In the past 2 1/2 years approximately 3,000 JTTF personnel have received FBI sponsored training.

Recently, the FBI formed a unit within the CTD to identify and assess the training and professional development needs of the CTD. Specifically as it relates to the JTTF program, this unit will provide legal training to NJTTF personnel and JTTF members regarding the Attorney General's Guidelines for FBI National Security Investigations and Foreign Intelligence Collection, and coordinate E-learning and computer based training opportunities on the tools, techniques and skills needed to successfully investigate terrorism. These skills will be derived from a competency profile developed for Agents assigned to counterterrorism matters. This unit, working in conjunction with the other CTD components and through the FBI's TDD will develop, execute and monitor a national training plan for the JTTFs and NJTTF. The draft framework for a national training plan for the JTTFs and NJTTF is anticipated to be completed by September 2005.

The FBI concurs with your recommendation to develop a formal, standardized orientation program for all new Task Force members and provide it within 30 days of the new member's start date. As noted in your report, orientation and training has not been applied uniformly for all JTTF members. The FBI CTD has developed a short-term/immediate and mid-range plan for addressing orientation and training for newly-appointed JTTF members. On April 20, 2005, pending implementation of a formal national standardized orientation and training program, the CTD directed all JTTFs to immediately provide orientation and training to newly-appointed members within their first year of service. The directive mandated that the following areas be included, at a minimum, in the orientation and training:

  • Administrative Security
  • Automation/Computer Investigative Resources
  • Introduction to Foreign Intelligence/Terrorism
  • International/Domestic Terrorism Base Courses
  • (CD-ROM based training)
  • Foreign Counterintelligence Basic Course (CD-ROM based training)
  • Surveillance Techniques
  • Evidence Procedures
  • Technical Writing
  • Legal Training
  • Asset/Source Recruiting and Management

In conjunction with the above, the FBI's CTD has undertaken a project to establish a structured, orientation and training program for JTTF participants, to be implemented in early Fiscal Year (FY) 2006.

The FBI concurs with your recommendation that the FBI should finalize memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with all agencies participating on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) terrorism task forces. It should be noted that since 1980, the FBI has maintained MOUs with all state and local agencies who participate on the JTTFs. Currently, the FBI maintains 311 MOUs with agencies that participate in JTTFs. With regard to MOUs with other Federal agencies, prior to September 2001, the FBI had established MOUs with 13 Federal agencies serving on the JTTFs.

The FBI's CTD is currently updating all NJTTF and JTTFs MOUs, incorporating post-September 2001 issues, to include: polygraph requirements; information sharing policy; and, agreements on the length of commitment by individuals to the NJTTF and JTTFs. The FBI's CTD is currently engaged in and nearing completion of negotiations with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), regarding standardized MOUs. It is anticipated that this process will be completed within the coming weeks.

The FBI concurs with your recommendation that the FBI, the DOJ's Counterterrorism Section, the Executive Office of United States Attorneys (EOUSA), and the many United States Attorneys Offices (USAOs) should work jointly to develop and enhance the coordinated strategy to consistently reach remote areas. While the FBI has implemented several mechanisms as part of an overall strategy to ensure effective information sharing with all state and local law enforcement agencies, and has additional significant initiatives in final development, information sharing across the broad law enforcement spectrum is one of our highest priorities. The FBI works with state and local law enforcement to provide information regarding terrorism threats which specifically impacts their jurisdiction. The FBI field offices have effective liaison between FBI Resident Agencies and other law enforcement and government agencies, in their jurisdiction. The FBI continuously seeks additional opportunities to provide relevant information to our law enforcement partners.

As part of our current strategy for addressing the law enforcement community in remote areas, the FBI provides weekly Intelligence Bulletins, distributed over the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications (NLET) system to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide. This process began in February 2002 and has grown each year. Since such time, the FBI has released over 170 Intelligence Bulletins. During past periods of heightened threats, the FBI released an average of two Intelligence Bulletins per week. Over time, this process has evolved, to include the joint publication of the Intelligence Bulletins with the DHS.

As a second part of our strategy, is the availability of a Law Enforcement Online (LEO) account without cost to any law enforcement agency in the United States. In the Counterterrorism Section of LEO each of these Intelligence Bulletins is stored for retrieval, along with intelligence products with a security classification of Law Enforcement Sensitive or less. In September 2003, the FBI established the National Electronic Alert System (NAS) which presently has 4,100 participants, and allows FBI Headquarters components and field office Special Agents-in-Charge (SACs) to simultaneously contact local law enforcement officials, using cell-phones, pagers, and e-mails.

The CTD is coordinating with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) to produce a FBI National Report on a weekly basis, which will be the primary terrorism threat outreach bulletin for the nationwide national law enforcement community at the "for official use only/law enforcement sensitive (FOUO/LES)" classification level.

Using the tools developed to deliver intelligence at varying classification levels, we propose using a similar method to deliver outreach and training. A great amount of online training is already deliverable, and more can be developed, tailored and delivered to a larger audience by the FBI and the ATACs through LEO, Regional Information Sharing System (RISS), the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), and other FOUO/LES systems. All of this training is deliverable through mechanisms developed to deliver tiered intelligence to the nation's law enforcement community.

We are encouraged that the OIG has identified the fact that Law Enforcement Coordination Council (LECC) allocations to each USAO, as well as Federal and state DHS monies, have funded ATAC training in past efforts, and suggest this vehicle for implementation of a coordinated outreach to remote law enforcement entities across the United States. Moreover, the bottom-up flow of law enforcement information from the front line officer in response to this outreach will be a "force multiplier."

The FBI agrees with your assessment that we should strengthen our performance measures to provide an effective means for determining the qualitative and quantitative accomplishments of our task forces and their members in fulfilling the DOJ's counterterrorism strategy. The NJTTF has taken additional steps to develop and promote "best practices" for the JTTFs. During the JTTF National Training Conferences in September 2003 and April 2005, the NJTTF presented a list of "best practices" for the JTTFs. Such "best practice" topics have included: establishing JTTF Executive Boards; adopting a "treat everyone the same" approach to Special Agents (SAs) and Task Force Officers (TFOs); assigning TFOs as co-case Agents for investigations/leads; assigning TFOs as co-case agents on sources; documenting a training program for newly appointed JTTF members; developing new source development and vetting initiatives; mandatory LEO/NAS membership for all JTTF members, to include establishing special interest groups (SIGs) on LEO; ensuring all JTTF TFOs are capturing (TURK) their time spent on JTTF investigations; and coordinating the integration of Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs). Some of these "best practices" have already been documented in FBI policy communications (e.g., executive boards, TURK requirements, and mandatory LEO membership/SIGs).

To improve strategic planning and tracking of performance measures, the FBI is currently developing a strategic management tool called the "Comprehensive Operational Management Plan Advancing Specific Strategies (COMPASS)." This tool will be a web-based application that provides information on specific goals, objectives, and performance outcomes for each FBI division, both at Headquarters and in the field. The COMPASS will track and collect the specific progress on all objectives. At any given time, the system will provide senior management the ability to access such information online. As the COMPASS is developed, it will become useful to all FBI programs to aid in the measurement of specific strategic outcomes.

The FBI agrees that the FTTTF should develop a plan to acquire and regularly update the required databases from other agencies. While the FBI presently has a plan for the identification and acquisition of data sets from other agencies, the necessity of establishing MOUs and each agencies limited resources impact on the timing of such updates. For example, the Homeland Security Council mandated that FBI be provided "full access" to US-VISIT and SEVIS data in July 2004. Negotiation of the MOU concluded with its signing on February 10, 2005 and a 30day pilot transfer of data occurred on January 18, 2005. We will continue to work towards full access to other agencies databases.

The FBI agrees that we should identify and address the obstacles the FTTTF encounters in securing and regularly updating required databases from other agencies. Where obstacles exist, they have been identified and are being addressed.

The FBI agrees with your assessment that we should identify and address the FTTTF's unmet resource requirements for staff (FBI and other government agencies), space, and equipment. The FBI acknowledges the unmet resource requirements for staff (FBI and other government agencies), however, space and equipment requirements have been met. The FTTTF moved to its permanent location during 2004-2005 and all personnel are collocated. Equipment requirements have also been met and enhancements are pending in the budget process. The current facility provides access to other agency participants' home data networks, access to the FBINET for all cleared personnel with a need for access, and a modern data center to service the network and application requirements of FTTTF. Additionally, technical capabilities developed at FTTTF are being extended to become a Bureau-wide resource. Specifically, the Data Extraction and Extension Project (DEEP) was recently implement on the FBI Intranet to provide a valuable application for investigative and program management of CT matters. A proposal for the implementation of a Network and Tools Extension (NEXT) Project, providing secure access to the FTTTF Data Mart and analytical tools from any FBINET workstation, has been reviewed and approved by the FBI Enterprise Architecture Board (EAB).

The FBI is focused on ensuring long-term, stable leadership, organizational structure, and housing for the FTTTF. In addition, the FBI's FTTTF has addressed the problems of unstable, leadership, organizational structure and housing, which occurred during the initial two years of existence. The FTTTF moved into its current facility during 2004-2005, and has no current plans to relocate.

The FBI acknowledges your recommendation that the FTTTF should develop and implement a marketing plan to improve awareness and understanding of its services. The FTTTF has taken steps to implement such a plan. Specifically, in regards to leadership, the FTTTF provides:

  • weekly briefings to visiting SACs and ASACs,
  • participates in the Counterterrorism Division's orientation for new assignees,
  • has presented to the National Joint Terrorism Task Force Conference,
  • provides briefings to new SACs and Legats,
  • has briefed outside organizations; International Association of Chief of Police (IACP) , National Sheriffs' Association, Major City Chiefs, Interagency Intelligence Committee on Terrorism (IICT) , and is schedule to brief the Homeland Security and Information Sharing Conference at New Orleans in June 2005.

Additionally, the FTTTF has established a web site on the FBI Intranet, which will be replicated in-part on SIPRNET. An Executive Guide has been published to provide a concise synopsis of FTTTF capabilities and how to request support.

The FBI has actually engaged in the determination and allocation of sufficient staff to effectively support the terrorism task forces. Currently, the JTTF program is staffed by 3,714 full-time law enforcement officers. All 103 JTTFs are staffed full-time by 2,196 FBI Agents, 683 officers from other Federal government agencies, and 835 state and local law enforcement officers. In addition, this staff is augmented by 1,355 part-time law enforcement officers, which consists of 121 FBI Agents, 708 officers from other government agencies, and 526 state and local law enforcement officers. For command and control purposes, the Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) or SAC of each FBI field office are directly responsible for managing and allocating JTTF officers to effectively support the FBI's counterterrorism mission. On an annual basis, each ADIC or SAC reports their staffing and operational requirements to FBI Headquarters. In FY 2005, additional Special Agent resources were allocated to field offices and FBI Headquarters.

With respect to analytic support, all FBI field offices currently manage and operate a Field Intelligence Group (FIG). The FIG serves as the central intelligence component of every FBI Field Office and performs and oversees the performance of core intelligence functions within the field office. The primary mission of these FIGs, predominantly staffed with FBI Intelligence Analysts, is to provide direct operational and strategic analytical support to JTTF officers. On March 25, 2004, FBI Headquarters established mandatory coordination requirements between all FIGs and the JTTFs. Specifically, all capability to ensure t at intelligence collected by the JTTF, which should be disseminated, is in fact disseminated to relevant FBI intelligence customers on a timely basis. Again, for command and control purposes, each ADIC or SAC of their respective FBI field office are directly responsible for managing and allocating FIG resources to effectively support the FBI's counterterrorism mission.

The FBI concurs that we should seek stability in JTTF leadership. The OIG report focuses on several levels of management to include the SSA, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) and SAC, not specifically the key JTTF management staff consisting of first line supervisors; the JTTF SSAs who typically serve as international terrorism (IT) and domestic terrorism (DT) program coordinators, and the JTTF ASACs, who typically serve as the IT and DT program managers.

Your report noted "some of JTTF members interviewed" made comments regarding lack of continuity in the JTTF's management created inconsistencies. In addition, "some of JTTF members" commented that frequency of transfer of FBI JTTF agents, sooner than the standard rotation, "also can have an impact on investigation." All FBI personnel, no matter what program, view the importance of following through on investigations as a priority.

In regards to your recommendation that the FBI should develop a plan and issue written guidance for the JTTFs on how to activate new JTTFs and move existing JTTFs to offsite locations, the FBI previously issued written guidance, respectively, on January 30, 2001 and Ma 27, 2003, to all FBI field offices regarding guidelines submitting proposals for the formation of JTTFs. The latter guidance established an 11-point criterion for the activation of new JTTFs.

The report's conclusion that the FBI has not provided adequate space for some JTTFs should be put in context. The OIG's survey revealed t at 72 percent of JTTF members rated the space as average or better. From our review of your report, it is not clear how many field offices are represented by the remaining 28 percent of JTTF members who rated their space as "poor" or "very poor." Each office annually outlines the needs of their JTTFs to FBI's CTD.

In all these cases, the field offices reported that CTD has been immediately responsive to requests for money for the expansion of suitable space for the JTTFs. While we acknowledge delays in the establishment of offsite locations, the cause is principally based on external factors. The effects of recurring continuing resolutions have had a dramatic impact on the FBI's ability to fully fund the creation of new JTTFs offsite locations. This situation is further compounded by the required coordination and processing of space issues with the General Services Administration (GSA). The FBI has addressed every request from the JTTFs for space. At times we disagree on the level of support; nonetheless, every basic request requirement has been fulfilled. Specifically, the FBI has incrementally increased the allocation of funding for the leasing of space and renovations for JTTFs from $554,705 (FY 2002) to $6,328,884 (FY 2005).

The FBI also agrees with your recommendation that we should ensure sufficient information technology connectivity is needed to effectively support the terrorism task forces. The FBI CTD supports requests for funding for field office JTTFs covert operating expenses (e.g., internet access, analog phone/computer lines), overt equipment (e.g., DSL, internet access, computers), and supply requirements.

In September 2004, all NJTTF members gained internet access at their workstations. Accompanied with individual internet access was the ability to simultaneously convert between classified and unclassified systems via separate computer systems.

The FBI's internet connectivity issue is presently being addressed under the direction of the Office of IT Program Management (OIPM), and is currently in the process of being redesigned to produce a more stable network that will serve the JTTF's long-term operational and administrative needs.

This report finds that some JTTF members described systems as "outdated" and "unreliable", which negatively affected the operations. The JTTF participants have been provided access and training to the following databases/systems:

  • Automated Case Support (ACS) - The FBI's centralized case management system.
  • FBI Network (FBINET) - The FBI's centralized network management system to access various administrative, financial, and investigative systems.
  • Guardian - The FBI's web-based threat tracking system.
  • Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW) - The FBI's combined data warehouse, allowing a single search to query data from multiple government agencies.
  • iMap - A geospatial analytical tool distributed to all JTTFs by the FTTTF.
  • SCION - The FBI's Top Secret classified information network.
  • SIPRNET - The U.S. military's Secret level classified information network.

Additionally, plans are underway for JTTF member access to new databases/systems, to include:

  • Data Extraction and Extension Project (DEEP) - A relational database to extract information from components of the FBI's ACS.
  • Intelligent and terrorist Photograph Identification Database (INTRPEID) - The FBI's terrorists tracking and photo identification database for known terrorists and terrorist groups.
  • National Counterterrorism Threat Center (NCTC) Online - The NCTC's classified internet.
  • SIPRNET - A desktop version will be deployed to all FBI field offices.

Our investment and development of IDW, which provides enhanced access to ACS and many other FBI and open source databases, has been successful. The FBI's investment in IDW, iMAP, and Guardian was a large step forward in providing all JTTF members the tools necessary to complete their mission. The IDW was developed and deployed during FY 2004. Our goal has always been to provide JTTFs with the best tools for them to complete their mission.

The FBI is appreciative of the work made by the OIG in conducting this review. While we are proud of the accomplishments and achievements made by the members of the JTTFs, the NJTTF and the FTTTF, we are also aware that there are always areas where further improvements can be made. The FBI looks forward to implement corrective action where needed and recommended while continuing to carry out its mission in the "War on Terrorism."

Sincerely yours,

Willie T. Hulon
Assistant Director
Counterterrorism Division

Previous Page Back to Table of Contents Next Page