Semiannual Report to Congress

October 1, 2008 – March 31, 2009
Office of the Inspector General

Federal Bureau of Investigation
FBI logo The FBI’s mission is to protect the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and provide criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners. FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. coordinates activities of more than 30,000 employees in 56 field offices located in major cities throughout the United States, more than 400 resident agencies in smaller cities and towns across the nation, and more than 60 international offices, called “Legal Attaches,” in U.S. embassies worldwide.

Reports Issued

The FBI’s Efforts to Combat Crimes Against Children

The OIG’s Audit Division assessed the FBI’s efforts to combat crimes against children. The FBI’s efforts focus primarily on online child sexual exploitation, child abductions, and non-cyber sexual exploitation. Our audit found that the FBI expends significant resources in these areas, employing the equivalent of 326 full-time special agents and initiating 2,891 investigations to address crimes against children in FY 2007.

The FBI primarily addresses crimes against children through two investigative units:  1) the Innocent Images Unit, which focuses on crimes against children facilitated through the Internet and technology, and 2) the Crimes Against Children Unit, which addresses non-cyber crimes such as child kidnapping and child prostitution. From its inception in 1995 through FY 2007, the Innocent Images Unit opened more than 20,000 investigations that resulted in nearly 7,000 convictions. Our audit found that between FYs 2006 and 2007 the FBI focused 70 percent of its Innocent Images special agent resources on its top two priorities – criminal enterprises and child pornography producers who sexually exploit children online.

Our audit identified several areas that could impede the FBI’s efforts to protect children from violent crimes and sexual exploitation. The FBI’s investigation of online crimes against children has been hampered to some extent by the length of time needed for FBI laboratories to conduct forensic analysis of digital evidence. The overall amount of digital evidence analyzed by the FBI increased nearly 2,200 percent between FYs 2001 and 2007. Although the FBI has tried to reduce its backlog of digital evidence, at the time of our audit a significant backlog still existed. We determined that FBI computer forensic personnel spent an overall average of 59 days examining digital evidence in FY 2007, but the processing time for some cases could have taken up to 9 months. To ensure timely processing of digital evidence, we recommended that the FBI establish appropriate deadlines or benchmarks for completing requests.

In addition, the FBI has developed Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) teams, composed of experienced FBI special agents who provide onsite consultation to local law enforcement in missing children investigations. CARD teams were deployed on 26 occasions from March 2006 through December 2007. While the local law enforcement agencies we interviewed were generally satisfied with the assistance provided by the CARD teams, we could not determine how long it took for the FBI, on average, to respond to reports of missing children on a nationwide basis because the FBI does not have a mechanism for evaluating the timeliness of its CARD team deployments.

The OIG determined that the FBI needs to provide more specialized training to its special agents stationed at overseas posts who work with foreign governments on international parental kidnapping cases. We also found that the investigation of international parental kidnapping has been hampered by the lack of a shared database among the FBI, Department of State, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

To combat the prostitution of children, the FBI participates in the Innocence Lost National Initiative, a cooperative venture with NCMEC and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Criminal Division. From FY 2003 through FY 2007, the FBI provided training on combating child prostitution, formed 24 nationwide Innocence Lost National Initiative task forces and working groups, and dismantled 31 criminal enterprises that trafficked children for prostitution. However, the FBI has not developed a complementary strategy for child sex tourism, which involves adults who travel to foreign countries to exploit children sexually. We recommended that the FBI develop a comprehensive program on child sex tourism similar to the Innocence Lost National Initiative.

In total, the OIG made 13 recommendations for the FBI to enhance its crimes against children programs. The FBI agreed with our recommendations.

The FBI’s Terrorist Threat and Suspicious Incident Tracking System

The OIG’s Audit Division evaluated the FBI’s Guardian Threat Tracking System known as Guardian, an automated system that records, stores, and assigns responsibility for follow up on counterterrorism threats and suspicious incidents received by the FBI. Guardian also records the outcome of the FBI’s handling of these terrorist threats and suspicious incidents and can be used to disseminate immediate threat information and analyze threat information for trends and patterns.

From July 2004 through November 2007, the FBI documented in Guardian approximately 108,000 potential terrorism-related threats, reports of suspicious incidents, and terrorist watchlist encounters. Our audit found that the Guardian system represents a significant improvement to how the FBI previously tracked and handled threat information. However, the FBI must address shortcomings in the accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of the information entered into Guardian.

For example, FBI policy requires an FBI supervisor to review and close each threat or suspicious incident in Guardian. However, our review found that supervisory reviews were not performed in 12 percent of the 218 Guardian incidents tested. Additionally, FBI personnel did not consistently include supplementary information in the Guardian system, which could cause Guardian users performing searches or trend analyses of Guardian data to receive inaccurate assessments of threats due to incomplete data. The OIG also found that while the FBI generally addressed high-priority and urgent threats in a timely manner, 28 percent of the 218 Guardian incidents tested were not resolved within 30 days – the timeframe established by the FBI to resolve most incidents. Moreover, some Guardian incidents remained unresolved in the threat tracking system for several months.

The FBI generally requires all threat information obtained from ongoing counterterrorism investigations recorded in its Automated Case Support System to also be entered into Guardian. We found that in almost half the cases tested the corresponding threat information was not entered into Guardian, which could prevent threat information from being available to all Guardian users, including the FBI’s law enforcement and intelligence partners.

In addition to Guardian, the OIG reviewed the FBI’s development of E-Guardian, a companion system that will provide state and local law enforcement with the capability to share local terrorism incident information with the FBI and receive nationwide unclassified terrorism incident information from the FBI. Deployment of E-Guardian has been delayed because the FBI changed the contractor developing the system. In addition, the implementation of technical patches to Guardian, designed to improve its operation, also caused some delay. Because both Guardian and E Guardian are critical to the FBI’s terrorist threat tracking and management process, any additional delays in the deployment of E-Guardian or the implementation of Guardian technical patches could inhibit the FBI’s ability to track terrorist threats and suspicious incidents.

We made seven recommendations to improve the FBI’s tracking of terrorist threats and suspicious incidents. The FBI agreed with our recommendations.

Sentinel IV:  Status of the FBI’s Case Management System

The OIG released its fourth in a series of reports examining the FBI’s ongoing development of its Sentinel case management project. The Sentinel program is intended to upgrade the FBI’s electronic case management system and provide the FBI with an automated workflow process.

In our third audit, issued in August 2007, we reported that Phase 1 of Sentinel was completed generally within budget, and the contractor delivered two key project components:  a web-based portal for employees to log onto the FBI’s Automated Case Support System (ACS) and personal and squad workboxes that summarize a user’s cases and leads and helps supervisors manage resources. However, the FBI deferred one major deliverable – data cleansing of some ACS data for eventual migration to Sentinel. In our third report, we recommended that the FBI continue to implement the “lessons learned” from Phase 1 and consider modifying its four-phase approach to allow for more frequent updates to Sentinel.

Our current audit determined that the FBI was making progress in addressing most of the concerns identified in the three previous OIG audits of the Sentinel project. We also found that the FBI implemented several management controls and processes designed to help manage the development of Sentinel and bring it to a successful conclusion.

Our audit also focused on the FBI’s replanning of Phases 2 through 4, during which time the FBI used the replanning effort to update its requirements for Sentinel. As a result of these changes, the FBI’s total estimated cost of Sentinel has increased from $425 million to $451 million, and the completion date for Phase 4 has been extended from December 2009 to June 2010.

In the audit, we raised concerns about the FBI’s limited planning for streamlining its business processes to coincide with implementation of Sentinel. While Sentinel offers the FBI an opportunity to make processes such as the collection of performance statistics more efficient, the FBI has completed minimal planning in this area. The FBI also needs to make several important decisions about the scope and functionality of Sentinel, such as Sentinel’s role in automating the FBI’s records management process. In addition, the FBI needs to improve the risk management process it uses to identify, monitor, control, and mitigate risks before they negatively affect Sentinel’s cost, schedule, and performance. The current threshold for determining when a risk requires a contingency plan is set so high that very few, if any, risks will require a contingency plan. Improving the risk management process will enhance the FBI’s overall risk management as well as its contingency preparedness.

We made 10 new recommendations to help the FBI ensure success of the Sentinel case management system and to better manage project costs. The FBI agreed with our recommendations.

CODIS Audits

The FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) includes a national information repository that permits the storing and searching of DNA specimen information to facilitate the exchange of DNA information by law enforcement agencies. During this reporting period, the OIG audited several state and local laboratories that participate in CODIS to determine if they comply with the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards and National DNA Index System (NDIS) requirements. Additionally, we evaluated whether the laboratories’ DNA profiles in CODIS databases were complete, accurate, and allowable. Below are two examples of our audit findings.


During this reporting period, the OIG received 892 complaints involving the FBI. The most common allegations made against FBI employees were Intelligence Oversight Board violations, job performance failure, waste, and misuse of government property. The OIG opened 16 cases and referred other allegations to the FBI’s Inspection Division for its review.

At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 41 open criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct related to FBI employees. The criminal investigations covered a wide range of offenses including release of information, false statements, and job performance failure. The administrative investigations involved serious allegations of misconduct. The following are examples of cases involving the FBI that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:

Ongoing Work

The FBI’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Improper Requests for Telephone Records

As a follow-up to our reviews of the FBI’s use of national security letters, the OIG is investigating the FBI’s use of exigent letters and other improper requests to obtain telephone records.

The FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist Nomination Practices

This follow-up to our audit of the Department’s watchlist nomination processes is focusing on the FBI’s practices for nominating individuals to the consolidated terrorist watchlist. This review is examining whether the FBI appropriately places or removes individuals on the watchlist in a timely manner and if records are updated with new information.

Review of the FBI’s Disciplinary System

The OIG is reviewing the FBI’s system for investigating allegations of employee misconduct and for disciplining employees who are found to have committed misconduct.

FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness

The OIG is evaluating the FBI’s efforts to prepare for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threats by reviewing its WMD operations, including how the WMD Directorate assists and supports field division WMD coordinators. This review also is assessing the WMD coordinators’ activities with FBI personnel, as well as with public and private industry and the wider law enforcement community.

The FBI’s Foreign Language Translation Services

As a follow-up to our July 2005 audit, we are assessing the FBI’s ability to translate critical foreign language material and whether the FBI ensures the appropriate prioritization of translation work, accurate and timely translations of pertinent information, and adequate pre- and post-hire security screening of linguists. We also are examining the FBI’s success in meeting linguist hiring goals and the extent of any translation backlogs and the efforts taken by the FBI to address these backlogs.

Review of the FBI’s Efforts to Combat Cyber Crime

The OIG is examining the FBI’s programs to monitor, analyze, and investigate cyber crime.

Sentinel Audit V:  Status of the FBI’s Case Management System

This audit is evaluating the implementation of Phase 2 of the FBI’s development of its new case management system, including cost and schedule performance. We also are assessing the FBI’s progress in resolving concerns identified in our previous Sentinel audits.

Follow-up of the FBI’s Casework and Human Resource Allocation

This review is examining the FBI’s allocation and reprioritization of its personnel resources. We are assessing whether: 1) the FBI has sufficiently improved its process for allocating resources based on the investigative needs of the organization, 2) each FBI Investigative Operational Division has established a process for assessing the resource needs of field offices and headquarters in line with its priorities and threats, and 3) FBI resources are being utilized as intended.


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