Federal Bureau of Investigation Casework and Human Resource Allocation
Report No. 03-37
Office of the Inspector General
In general, the FBI utilized fewer agent resources than it allocated from FY 1996 through FY 2000. Some, but not all, of this difference is attributable to vacancies. The National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) consistently utilized fewer agent resources than it was allocated from FY 1996 through FY 2000; this trend did not change until FY 2001 and the events of 9/11. In contrast, the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders (VCMO) program utilized more agent resources than it was allocated for each fiscal year between 1996 and 2001.
As previously discussed, the FBI’s Resource Management and Allocation (RMA) office uses the budget approved by Congress to allocate personnel resources and establish Funded Staffing Levels (FSLs) where each FSL equals one person.38 The following chart provides agent FSLs, by program, from FY 1996 through 2001.
FBI FUNDED STAFFING LEVELS
Using data from the FBI’s TURK system, we computed annual special agent personnel Average On Board (AOB)40 totals for the Bureau as a whole and for the individual FBI programs.41 We then compared the annualized AOB data (resource utilization) to the annual Funded Staffing Level (FSL) data (resource allocation) for FYs 1996 through 2001.42
The following chart highlights the general underutilization of agent resources in the FBI as a whole for the reviewed timeframe. Prior to FY 2001, the FBI utilized fewer agent resources than allocated in each fiscal year, although the gap between the two narrowed as time progressed. By FY 2001, the Bureau utilized more agent resources than allocated.
In order to gain insight into the aggregate differences between utilization and allocation reflected in Exhibit 5-2, we reviewed each program individually. We found that some programs consistently used fewer or more resources than allocated, while the rate varied in other programs. We then interviewed various FBI officials regarding discrepancies between resource allocation and usage in their particular programs.
Prior to 9/11, the FBI consistently underutilized its NFIP agent resources. This trend did not change until FY 2001, when agent utilization actually exceeded allocation.
COMPARISON OF AVERAGE AGENTS ON BOARD TO FUNDED STAFFING LEVEL
NATIONAL FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM
FISCAL YEARS 1996 THROUGH 2001
NFIP officials said the consistent underburn in NFIP could be traced to changing priorities and hiring issues. Currently, counterterrorism issues are clearly the highest priority for the Department and the FBI. For the time period in question, however, NFIP officials stated that priorities were focused on reducing gun violence and illegal drug trafficking. In addressing these priorities, the FBI directed resources to its Organized Crime/Drugs and Violent Crimes and Major Offenders programs and this came, in part, at the expense of NFIP.
As to why FBI activities are not always consistent with or do not always correspond to the priorities laid out in the FBI’s strategic plan, NFIP officials reported that the priorities from the strategic plan were established based on offenses for which the FBI, by statute, had sole jurisdiction, followed by crimes other federal agencies could investigate, followed by crimes state and local agencies could investigate. This categorization did not take into account large events of national significance, which is what often drives the FBI’s activities. They said that when major national criminal issues arise, or changes in priorities occur, field offices pull people off of other programs and direct them towards these matters, causing staff resources in the other priority programs to suffer.
NFIP officials also attributed the underburn to hiring issues. They explained that after Congress provides funding for additional positions, it can take more than a year to bring new agents on board. Also, between FY 1996 and 2001, the FBI went through several hiring freezes. They added that while they are always ready to replace personnel lost by attrition (about 500 people per year), they find it more difficult to gear up to hire after a hiring freeze. Further, hiring efforts are sometimes hampered by significant investigations because agents working on background investigations must shift their efforts to the more pressing matters and the hiring process is delayed.
In FY 1999, its first year as an FBI program, NIPCIP utilized fewer agents than allocated. In the next two fiscal years, the utilization and allocation figures were closer with NIPCIP utilizing slightly more agent resources than allocated.
Like NFIP, for much of the analyzed timeframe DT utilized fewer agent resources than allocated. The exceptions occurred in FY 1996, when DT utilized 119 agent resources more than it was allocated, and in FY 2000, when utilization within the program outpaced its allocation by 5 agents.
DT officials explained that in FY 1996, the FBI was in the midst of a variety of significant investigations, including cases involving the Mountain Militia; the Freemen group; the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics; and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April 1995. Additionally, increased activity of many domestic militia groups during this period resulted in the increased workload.
As for the underutilization in FY 1997, officials noted an enhancement of 350 agents from a mid-year supplemental appropriation that did not provide the FBI with sufficient time to fill all of these positions. They further stated that in FY 1998 the FBI diverted agents to background investigations so that the Bureau could more quickly bring new agents on board. Additionally, the FBI diverted agent resources from the DT program to the Safe Streets Task Forces (located within the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders program) and firearms training. Officials added that in FY 1999 the FBI did not hire to its hiring plan, resulting in an agent underburn in most programs.
As shown in Exhibit 5-6, WCC underutilized its agent resources between FY 1996 and FY 2001 by a total of 655 agents (4.5 percent); the average underutilization was 109 agents per year. WCC officials attributed this, in part, to the general field office understaffing during the same time period. They also said that increased allocations to counterterrorism matters began during the same time period, particularly with implementation of the new Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Like NFIP and DT, officials in WCC also pointed to hiring issues as a reason for their agent resource underutilization, explaining that in some years the FBI did not meet its hiring goals.
As with NFIP and WCC, OC/D consistently utilized fewer agents than allocated for each fiscal year between 1996 and 2001. In total, the program utilized 91.2 percent of its allocated agent resources during this period.43
Officials in OC/D stated that this underutilization was caused by a variety of factors.
In contrast to most other FBI programs, the VCMO program consistently utilized more agent resources than allocated in each fiscal year of the reviewed time period, for an overall utilization rate of 105.6 percent. VCMO officials attributed this, in part, to changes in resource allocations without corresponding changes in operational responsibility.
VCMO officials also said the increases in resource utilization between FY 1996 and FY 1999, the years with the largest disparity between utilization and allocation, occurred within the Violent Incident Crime sub-program. This sub-program includes major reactive violent crimes, such as kidnapping, extortion, bank/armored car robberies, and major fugitive cases. Officials noted that these cases often require intensive multi-divisional investigation, as well as deployment of the Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT), Hostage Rescue Team, Hostage Negotiation, Special Operations Group, and other manpower-related resources, all of which are charged to the VCMO program.
Although the allocation of resources to the Civil Rights program generally remained consistent during the analyzed time period, the program varied in its utilization of agent resources, underutilizing in FYs 1996 and 1997, overutilizing from FY 1998 through FY 2000, and then underutilizing again in FY 2001. These statistics are displayed in Exhibit 5-9.
Program officials noted that while FSLs were relatively static (varying by no more than three from year-to-year), program initiatives, as well as legislative and Department mandates, varied greatly from year-to-year. They explained the overutilization in FYs 1998 and 1999 by noting that several new initiatives were implemented during this time, including the National Church Arson Initiative, the National Task Force on Reproductive Health Providers, and the National Workers Exploitation Task Force. They also noted that on average from FY 1996 through 2002 the program utilized 99.9 percent of its allocated resources.
Officials also explained that FBI and Department policy require that all civil rights-related work be addressed, rendering them unable to manage the program by FSLs. Supervisors do not have discretion to prioritize work in other programs over existing CR cases. They added that this policy is unique to CR. Officials also expressed their belief that given this lack of flexibility, CR will remain subject to fluctuations. They also pointed out that civil rights is fifth in the FBI Director’s new list of agency priorities (as shown on page 6), the highest priority ranking it has ever held.
The Applicant Matters program overburned its agent resources during each fiscal year of the period studied, from a high of almost 300 agents in FY 1996 to a low of 40 agents in FY 2000. Overall, the Applicant program averaged a utilization rate of 245 percent.
Program officials stated that while Applicant Matters is considered a separate program, much of its work is to recruit, test, process, and hire special agents to staff all investigative programs. Officials also noted that agent utilization steadily decreased in the program over the years because the FBI began contracting with a private company to conduct applicant background checks.
Additionally, officials attributed the significant agent overutilization in FY 1996 to the large amount of applicant work when the FBI lifted a 3-year hiring freeze in 1995. In addressing the spike in utilization from 171 to 196 agents between FY 2000 and FY 2001, officials explained that because this period included the presidential election, the program was occupied with background checks on new presidential appointees, federal judges, and White House staff. According to program officials, contractors are not permitted to conduct these types of background checks.
The FBI significantly overutilized its agent resources in the Training program from FY 1996 through FY 2001.
Program officials explained that prior to FY 2001, training for all investigative programs was captured under the Training Program and was reflected in the utilization rate. In FY 2001, the FBI added subclassifications to capture training hours within the specific program supported by the training rather than within the overall Training Program. Program officials further explained that in March 2001, executive management declared that overutilization in the Training Program would no longer be acceptable and ordered that the training provided to state and local police officers be reduced.
Overall, our comparative trend analysis revealed that the FBI’s utilization of agent resources did not match its allocation of agent resources. Between FY 1996 and FY 2000, the Bureau as whole used fewer agent resources than it was allocated. It was not until FY 2001 that this trend shifted and agent usage surpassed agent allocation.
At the investigative program level, most programs experienced both under and overutilization. The matrix below summarizes our analyses; yellow shading illustrates underutilization and blue shading illustrates overutilization.
FISCAL YEARS 1996 THROUGH 2002
The FBI’s terrorism-related programs (National Foreign Intelligence, National Infrastructure Protection/Computer Intrusion, and Domestic Terrorism) and the Organized Crime/Drugs program underutilized agent resources at a rate much lower than that of the Bureau overall. The Violent Crimes and Major Offenders program was the only criminal investigative program that overutilized its agent resources in each year of our review period. All other FBI criminal investigative programs, including National Foreign Intelligence, Domestic Terrorism, White Collar Crime, Civil Rights, and Organized Crime/Drugs, experienced periods where agent utilization was below agent allocation. In contrast, the two non-criminal investigative FBI programs, Applicant Matters and Training, overutilized their resources in every fiscal year of the analyzed timeframe.
REDACTED AND UNCLASSIFIED