The Internal Effects of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Reprioritization
Audit Report 04-39
Office of the Inspector General
Chapter 4: Reductions in FBI Programs
The reprioritization efforts within the FBI called for a shift in resources from traditional criminal investigative areas to terrorism related initiatives. According to the FBI, officials looked at various factors in deciding from which programs the resources should be taken, including whether the criminal area was one that the FBI exclusively worked. For example, given that other law enforcement agencies conducted drug investigations and that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary federal agency for handling drug investigations, the FBI decided that resources could be taken from its Drug Program.
As discussed in Chapter 2, the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division experienced significant reductions in the number of allocated field agent positions. In particular, three CID program areas had fewer agents assigned to field offices in FY 2003 than in FY 2000: Organized Crime/Drugs, Violent Crime, and White Collar Crime. Exhibit 4-1 illustrates changes in field agent allocation that have occurred in these areas during our review period.
Besides the decline in allocated agent positions, these three program areas also experienced significant reductions in the actual utilization of agents. In fact, 26 of the 30 investigative classifications we identified in Chapter 3 as having experienced the greatest reductions in on board agents between FYs 2000 and 2003 were part of these 3 program areas. In this chapter we discuss the changes that occurred in the allocation and utilization of field agent resources within these program areas, as well as direction given to field offices in these areas by FBI management.
The Organized Crime/Drug (OC/D) Program, which is divided into separate components for organized crime and drugs, targets large criminal organizations. The Drug Section investigates organizations involved in illegal drug trafficking, while the Organized Crime (OC) Section investigates other organized criminal enterprises. The OC Section did not experience any reduction in allocated resources during the FBI's reprogramming. However, investigative efforts related to drug trafficking were significantly affected by the FBI's reprioritization efforts. Therefore, we focused our attention on drug related matters.
Resource Allocation and Utilization - The FBI allocates OC/D resources into three areas: Organized Crime, Drugs, and OCDETF.46 As shown in Exhibit 4-2, reductions in agent Funded Staffing Levels (FSLs) allocated to Drugs accounted for nearly all of the change within OC/D between FYs 2001 and 2003, while agent resources allocated to Organized Crime and OCDETF remained at virtually the same level.
Similar to the reductions in allocated agents, we found significant decreases in the number of on board agents utilized within the OC/D Program between FYs 2000 and 2003. As evidenced in Exhibit 4-3, both FSLs and on board agents generally decreased in each successive fiscal year. The only exception to this occurred in FY 2003, when FSLs increased by 10 positions. Field agent FSLs in OC/D decreased by 758 positions, or nearly 35 percent, from FY 2000 to FY 2003. During the same period, the number of on board agents utilized on OC/D matters declined by 1,032 agents, or 44 percent. These results suggest that decreases in field agent utilization within OC/D matters exceeded even the FBI's planned reductions.
Investigative Classifications - From our identification in Chapter 3 of the individual investigative classifications that experienced the greatest reductions in field agent utilization, we found that 12 involved OC/D investigative matters.48 Moreover, 11 of these 12 classifications related to matters involving drugs.49 These 12 classifications and their on board agent reductions are detailed in Exhibit 4 4.
We conducted further analyses of the classifications in Exhibit 4 4 and identified trends in FBI field offices most affected by agent utilization reductions in these investigative areas. For example, on board agent reductions in matters involving Central/South American organizations tended to impact larger field offices. In other instances, we observed that the most significant impacts in certain classifications occurred in distinct geographic areas, such as matters involving Mexican drug organizations primarily affecting offices along the nation's southwest border. These additional analyses of OC/D classifications are contained in Appendix VII.
Direction to Field Offices - The mission of the FBI's Drug Program is to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations posing the greatest threat to the United States and its citizens. In 2002, the Department of Justice generated the Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) list, which is updated regularly and identifies the most significant money laundering and drug trafficking organizations worldwide. Although the FBI's Program Plans encouraged SACs at FBI field offices to use their discretion in addressing the significant drug problems within their jurisdictions, any investigation of an organization not on the CPOT list required approval from FBI Headquarters. According to the FBI, if a field office had a pending investigation with a non CPOT organization at the time of the FBI's reprioritization, that office had to make an attempt to transfer the investigation to another law enforcement agency or else close the case.
In accordance with the FBI's top priority, the Drug Section was to allocate resources to first target those organizations with a credible link to terrorist cells and to involve FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in any such investigations.50 The FBI also planned to establish a Drug Program/Counterterrorism working group to promote coordination among these programs and enhance each program's expertise.
The FBI's March 2004 strategic plan provides additional guidance for drug investigations. The plan notes that the DEA is the primary federal agency for combating drug trafficking, and that the FBI should complement the DEA's efforts through an integrated approach while increasing the co location of FBI drug investigative resources with the DEA. The plan also indicates that the FBI should leverage its resources by combining its efforts with state and local law enforcement agencies through increased participation in OCDETF and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiatives.
According to the FBI, its overall mission for violent crime matters is to deter significant violent crime and make society a safer place. In its March 2004 strategic plan, the FBI noted that although general violent crime rates have fallen in recent years, murder rates in the United States have risen since 1999, especially rates in the northeastern portion of the country. The FBI attributes this, in part, to a resurgence in the number of violent street gangs in major metropolitan areas, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
According to the FBI, the nature of significant violent crime incidents usually requires an immediate response by the FBI, and it is vital that the FBI continues to combat violent crime matters across the country. The FBI has two programs that concentrate on violent criminal matters: the Violent Crime/Major Offenders (VCMO) Program and the Criminal Enterprise Investigations (CEI) Program. Specifically, VCMO is responsible for investigating a wide variety of criminal incidents, such as bank robberies, extortions, and kidnappings; while CEI is concerned with violent gangs and criminal enterprises involved in major thefts.
Resource Allocation and Utilization - Based upon data obtained from the FBI, field agent resources allocated to violent crime matters have been reduced significantly since FY 2000. Specifically, we found a reduction of 294 violent crime positions during our review period, an almost 15 percent decrease in resources. Further, we determined that the FBI utilized 413 fewer agents on violent crime matters in FY 2003 than in FY 2000.
In addition to reductions in funded agent positions, FBI officials commented that the FBI was significantly underutilizing its violent crime agent resources. Exhibit 4 5 compares agent utilization to FSL figures for all violent crime matters for FYs 2000 through 2003. As shown, during FYs 2000 and 2001 the FBI overutilized its agent resources in the investigation of violent crime matters. However, in FYs 2002 and 2003, the FBI underutilized its agent resources in this area. During our review period, the greatest difference between allocated agent levels and actual agent utilization occurred in FY 2002, when the FBI utilized 310 fewer on board agents than it was allocated.
Investigative Classifications - The results of our analysis show that the FBI is devoting fewer field agent resources to violent crime investigations. We found that 6 of the 30 investigative classifications that experienced the most significant reductions in on board agents from FYs 2000 to 2003 are related to violent crime matters.52 Three of these fall into the VCMO Program, while the others are located within the CEI Program. As shown in Exhibit 4 6, these 6 classifications accounted for a reduction of 285 on board agents.
The reductions in violent crime resources identified in Exhibit 4 6 affected field offices differently. For instance, on-board agents investigating bank robberies significantly declined in several field offices, but we found no common variable in field office size or location among the affected offices. Conversely, reductions in agent utilization for fugitive related matters (Classification 088A) mostly affected larger field offices. Appendix VIII provides additional analyses of violent crime investigative efforts for these classifications at the field office level.
Direction to Field Offices - According to FBI officials, written direction was provided to the field detailing changes within the violent crime program necessitated by the FBI's reprioritization. This direction took the form of electronic communications and announcements of investigative initiatives related to specific types of violent crime. Additionally, the FBI incorporated aspects of its reprioritization into the program plans it issues annually to the field. We reviewed the program plans related to violent crime matters for FYs 2001 and 2003 and found that field offices were given a list of national priorities for violent crime matters as a guide for prioritizing investigations. These priorities are based upon the violent crime problems identified by each field office. Although we observed slight changes in the priority list between the two fiscal years, as shown in Exhibit 4-7, the FBI's national priorities for violent crime matters have essentially remained the same since FY 2001. This implies that the nation's violent crime problems have not changed.
The FBI's program plans further noted that the FBI's violent crime strategy was to take a proactive approach to identifying and preventing the emergence of crime trends while also maintaining a strong reactive capacity in responding to violent crimes. As was the case with other criminal investigative programs, the FBI's violent crime program was directed to leverage its limited resources. Specifically, according to an FBI memorandum, field offices were to concentrate their violent crime efforts primarily on criminal enterprises. Additionally, SACs were advised to keep the FBI's national priorities in mind while directing their limited violent crime resources to matters that were most problematic within their jurisdictions.
The FBI's White-Collar Crime Program (WCC) is responsible for investigating and preventing major frauds committed against individuals and businesses, as well as with protecting the financial markets of the United States. In its March 2004 strategic plan, the FBI predicted that major white collar crime would impact the United States economy over the next five years, and that crimes, such as money laundering and health care fraud, would increase in the near future.
Resource Allocation and Utilization - From FYs 2000 to 2003, the FBI experienced a reduction of 157 allocated WCC field agent positions, reflecting a 6 percent decrease. Besides the allocation reductions, we also found that the FBI was using, on average, 20 percent fewer agents on white-collar crime investigations in FY 2003 than in FY 2000. In FY 2000, 2,426 on board agents were involved in such investigations. In FY 2003, the number dropped to 1,952.
We compared the field agent utilization to FSL figures for FYs 2000 through 2003 for WCC. As shown in Exhibit 4-8, the FBI underutilized its agent resources in the investigation of white-collar crime matters in each fiscal year of our review period. However, the magnitude of the underutilization increased during FYs 2002 and 2003 (i.e., after the reprioritization). For example, the FBI utilized only 83 percent of its funded white collar agents during FY 2003, compared to 99 percent in FY 2000.
Investigative Classifications - Among the 30 classifications that experienced the greatest reductions in on board agents, 8 pertained to white collar crime matters (see Exhibit 4 9). Included in these eight investigative classifications were those related to health care, telemarketing, and insurance fraud. Combined, the eight classifications listed in Exhibit 4-9 accounted for over 60 percent of the overall utilization decrease in WCC during our review period. The changes that occurred in each of these classifications at the field office level are detailed in Appendix IX.
Direction to Field Offices - As part of the reprioritization, FBI senior management provided field offices with written direction concerning the financial crime areas on which to focus their investigative efforts. In August 2002, field offices were notified of the current WCC national priorities, which were reiterated to field offices again in October 2002. In particular, the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division emphasized that field offices should evaluate their current investigations to ensure that they are actively pursuing the top four priorities within WCC: 1) Public Corruption, 2) Corporate/Securities and Commodities Fraud, 3) Health Care Fraud, and 4) Financial Institution Fraud (FIF). In addition to these four priority areas, WCC's FY 2003 Program Plan identified Money Laundering and Governmental Fraud as two additional areas that were particularly important. Although SACs have discretion in determining which crimes to investigate and how to utilize their resources, FBI management reminded the SACs to address white collar crime matters in priority order.
One of the most significant changes that has occurred within WCC since the reprioritization pertains to FIF matters. In the past, field offices were allowed to investigate FIF cases in which losses exceeded $25,000 without approval from FBI Headquarters. In August 2002, field offices were informed that the dollar threshold on initiating FIF cases had been raised to $100,000, and the investigation of any FIF matter falling under this threshold required pre approval from FBI Headquarters. Since this policy was initiated, FBI management has reminded field offices on several occasions of this new requirement.
Of the three program areas reviewed in this chapter, OC/D experienced the greatest decrease in funded agent positions in the FBI's post 9/11 reprioritization, a reduction of nearly 35 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2003. During the same period, OC/D experienced a nearly 45 percent decrease in agent resource utilization, predominantly within the area of drug investigations (where the FSL for field agents dropped by 62 percent between FYs 2001 and 2003). Moreover, 12 of the 30 classifications we identified as having experienced the greatest reductions in on board agents during our review period originated in OC/D.
FBI investigative activity in violent crime matters has also reduced by approximately 15 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2003. In particular, in the 6 investigative classifications identified in Exhibit 4 6, the FBI experienced a reduction of 285 on board agents between FYs 2000 and 2003. Moreover, after utilizing more agents than it had allocated for violent crime matters in FYs 2000 and 2001, the FBI utilized fewer violent crime agents than allocated in FYs 2002 and 2003.
Our analyses of on-board agent data indicated that there were approximately 20 percent fewer agents investigating white collar crime matters in FY 2003 than in FY 2000. In addition, 8 of the 30 decreasing investigative classifications identified involved white-collar crime matters. Specifically, we noted that the most significant agent utilization reductions occurred in telemarketing fraud, health care fraud, and insurance fraud. We also noted reductions in classifications pertaining to financial institution fraud, environmental crimes, bankruptcy fraud, and wire fraud. In terms of allocated positions, the FBI reduced the number of funded agent positions assigned to investigate white collar crime in the majority of field offices. From FYs 2000 to 2003, the FSLs for the WCC Program decreased by 157 agent positions.
The reassignment of agent resources has had an effect on FBI field offices. In some cases, offices in particular geographic locations and offices of particular sizes were more affected than others. Detailed information related to the 30 investigative classifications experiencing the greatest reductions in on board agents between FYs 2000 and 2003 is located in Appendices VII through IX. Detailed information on individual field offices is located in Supplemental Appendices I through III.
Redacted and Unclassified