The Internal Effects of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Reprioritization
Audit Report 04-39
Office of the Inspector General
In direct response to the September 11, 2001 (9/11), terrorist attacks, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a transformation that, among other things, established a new ranking of priorities and formally shifted a significant number of agents from traditional criminal investigative work to counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters. According to the Director, each of the changes was designed to reshape the FBI into an organization better able to combat the imminent threat of terrorism and to prevent another large scale terrorist attack against the United States.
Prior to 9/11, the FBI utilized more of its field agent resources to investigate traditional criminal activity than to investigate matters related to terrorism. According to the FBI, since the reprioritization it is striving to incorporate more proactive, intelligence based tactics and operations into its procedures, particularly in terrorism related matters.
Non terrorism related crime, however, still occurs, and because the FBI has the broadest jurisdiction of any federal law enforcement agency, it is expected to maintain a response capability for violations of federal criminal law. However, other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies may be capable of taking on increased responsibilities for certain investigative areas in light of the FBI's reprioritization. In order for this transition to occur effectively, the specific areas from which the FBI has reduced its involvement must be identified.
The objective of this Office of the Inspector General (OIG) review was to identify internal operational changes in the FBI resulting from its ongoing reprioritization efforts, focusing on the types of offenses that the FBI no longer investigated at pre-9/11 levels. The review, which covered fiscal years (FYs) 2000 through 2003, examined:
Because our objective was to determine changes since the reprioritization, we concentrated many of our analyses on comparing information from FYs 2000 and 2003 to obtain a view of resource utilization both before and well into the FBI's reprioritization efforts. The 9/11 attacks caused the FBI's human resource utilization data and casework data to be inordinately skewed towards terrorism-related matters at the end of FY 2001 and throughout the first half of FY 2002. Therefore, in order to conduct accurate analyses of changes within the FBI, we chose to concentrate on a comparison of FYs 2000 and 2003. Additional details of our audit objective, scope, and methodology can be found in Appendix I.
In May 2002, the FBI Director issued a new ranking of priorities that refocused FBI activities. We found that these new priorities guided the FBI's post 9/11 efforts and determined the structure of the FBI's program plans and new strategic plan, issued in March 2004. The top two priorities focus on terrorism related matters, while priorities three through eight are FBI criminal investigative functions. The priorities are as follows:
Overall Field Office Agent Allocation and Utilization
The means by which the FBI's priorities are most directly translated into operation is via the establishment of Funded Staffing Levels (FSLs), the method by which the FBI allocates its personnel resources. In general, as part of the budget planning and execution process the FBI allocates its agent resources to the field by establishing FSLs within each of its program areas. One FSL equates to one funded employee, or one full time equivalent (FTE). The FBI sets FSLs by program only for non supervisory agents in FBI field offices. Supervisory agent personnel are allocated to field offices in one lump sum as "management," while support personnel are allocated to field offices by type of support function.
We analyzed changes in the FBI's field agent allocations for FYs 2000 through 2003 and determined that the FBI generally shifted its allocation to reflect its new priorities. Specifically, we found that the FBI allocated more than 560 additional field agent positions to terrorism related matters in FY 2003 than in FY 2000, while reducing the number of positions allotted for matters not related to terrorism during the same time period. Most of this reduction in non terrorism related matters occurred within the Organized Crime/Drugs Program, where a total of 758 field agent positions were transferred during our review period.
COMPARISON OF FIELD AGENT ALLOCATIONS
IN TERRORISM AND
The FBI classifies its cases and tracks the time of most of its field personnel by means of a three tiered system consisting of 12 programs that reflect general crime areas and several administrative functions; 51 sub programs that fall within 10 of these programs; and 759 investigative classifications, which provide the greatest level of detail.1 For its human resource utilization comparisons, the FBI uses a computerized system called TURK (Time Utilization and Recordkeeping), which among other functions calculates the average number of personnel on board at a particular point in time. This value is referred to as Average On Board (AOB) and is a measure used throughout this report.
In order to determine how well its actual utilization of personnel falls in line with its allocation, the FBI compares AOB to FSLs, generally at the program level. We performed this same comparison for field agents in FY 2003 in terrorism related and non terrorism related matters. We found that the FBI utilized 845 more agents than it had allocated for terrorism related matters, while it utilized 879 fewer agents than planned in non terrorism areas. The following chart illustrates that the FBI exceeded its planned level of commitment to terrorism related matters by utilizing resources it had planned to use on non terrorism related matters.
FIELD AGENT ALLOCATION AND UTILIZATION
Utilization and Casework Changes by Investigative Classification
We also compared the FBI's FY 2000 and FY 2003 field agent utilization at the investigative classification level to identify specific areas in which the FBI reduced its efforts the most. We then identified the top 30 investigative classifications that experienced the most significant reductions in on board agents during our review period. The following chart shows the results of this review.
Each of the 30 investigative classifications identified is related to an FBI program. Specifically, 12 of the 30 investigative classifications experiencing the largest reductions in agent resource utilization are related to organized crime/drug matters. Eight classifications are associated with white collar crime, six are related to violent crime, two are foreign counterintelligence matters, one is related to civil rights, and the other pertains to domestic terrorism. In order to develop an understanding of the general areas that were reduced the most by the reprioritization, we summarized the total on board agent decreases within each of these 30 classifications and grouped them into their respective program areas.
ON BOARD AGENT REDUCTIONS
As shown in the preceding exhibit, 3 program areas were primarily affected by the 30 classifications experiencing the greatest reductions in on board agents: Organized Crime/Drugs (OC/D), White-Collar Crime, and Violent Crime. We analyzed each of these program areas in detail, including analyses of how the reductions in certain classifications impacted various types of field offices. For example, reductions in certain drug-related classifications involving Mexican organizations primarily affected field offices located along or near the southwest border of the United States, while reductions involving health care fraud generally occurred within the FBI's larger field offices.
In addition to our review of on board agents, we analyzed a universe of 404,318 field cases worked by the FBI during our review period and found 121,798 that arose from the 30 classifications we identified as experiencing the greatest on board agent reductions. We also reviewed trends in case openings and found that the FBI opened over 17,000 fewer cases within these 30 classifications in FY 2003 than in FY 2000. The FBI reduced the number of cases it opened most significantly with respect to violent fugitives, where 11,617 fewer cases were opened in FY 2003 than in FY 2000. No other reductions in case openings were as significant, although our result for bank robbery cases was notable. We found that although the FBI reduced its utilization of on board field agents in the classification for bank robberies by 26 percent during our review period, the FBI actually opened 485 more bank robbery cases in FY 2003 than in FY 2000.
Although we focused the bulk of our review on areas in which the FBI reduced its investigative efforts, we also identified the 30 investigative classifications that experienced the greatest increases in agent utilization. The majority of these classifications were in programs related to terrorism. Specifically, 24 of the 30 classifications with the greatest increases are part of either the National Foreign Intelligence or the Domestic Terrorism programs, while the remaining 6 classifications fall into the Violent Crime/Major Offenders, White Collar Crime, and Applicant programs. These classifications are highlighted in the following table.
As with those classifications experiencing the greatest reductions, we reviewed FBI cases worked during our review period from those classifications undergoing the largest increases in on board agents. We found that 22,993 of the original universe of 404,318 cases worked during our review period fell into one of these classifications. We analyzed trends in the number of cases opened during our review period in these classifications and noted a general upward trend in total case openings. Specifically, we found that the FBI had opened 2,808 more cases in these classifications than it had in FY 2000, an increase of 81 percent. Of these 30 classifications, the number of cases opened involving investigations of [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED] increased the most during our review period. At the same time, we noted significant increases in case openings for investigations involving Usama Bin Laden, as well as foreign counterintelligence cases [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED].
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI reprioritized its mission, formally moved a significant number of funded personnel from traditional criminal investigative areas to matters related to terrorism, and reorganized itself with the intent of becoming a more proactive, intelligence driven law enforcement agency. Our analyses revealed that FBI activities in FY 2003 were generally in line with its post 9/11 priorities.
Our analysis of FBI timekeeping data confirms that the FBI is performing less work in certain traditional criminal investigative areas and more work in areas related to terrorism. Each of the areas that experienced the most significant reductions in on board agents was provided guidance in how to prioritize their diminished resources, including focusing their efforts on the major criminal issues that existed in their respective jurisdictions. Field offices were also told to give first priority to those criminal investigations that had ties to terrorism.
This report contains comprehensive, data-driven analyses of the changes in the FBI's use of resources as a result of its shift in priorities and allocation of staff. These types of analyses can be useful to FBI executive management and program directors for evaluating progress in meeting goals and obtaining a data-based view of the status of FBI operations. We recommend that the FBI endeavor to conduct similar analyses on a regular basis. In a follow-up review we plan to initiate, we intend to conduct further analyses to determine how the FBI's shift in priorities and operations has affected external law enforcement entities.
Redacted and Unclassified