Semiannual Report to Congress
October 1, 2004–March 31, 2005
Office of the Inspector General
On February 1, 2005, the OIG issued an audit of the FBI’s management of the Trilogy IT modernization project (Trilogy). Initiated in 2001, the objectives of Trilogy were to update the FBI’s IT infrastructure; provide needed IT applications for FBI agents, analysts, and others to efficiently and effectively perform their duties; and lay the foundation for future IT improvements. The total funding for the project was $581.1 million.
Our audit found that the FBI successfully completed the Trilogy IT infrastructure upgrades, albeit with significant delays and cost increases. The final component of the Trilogy project, the Virtual Case File (VCF), had not been completed and the audit disclosed that there was no determination as to its final cost and completion date. Without the VCF user application fully implemented, the FBI will continue to lack an entirely functional case management system. This raises national security implications because the FBI has to rely on its antiquated automated case system, which hampers FBI agents and analysts from adequately searching and sharing information from investigative files.
The audit determined that the delays and associated cost increases in the Trilogy project were the result of several factors, including poorly defined and slowly evolving design requirements, weak statements of work in the contracts, IT investment management weaknesses, lack of an Enterprise Architecture, lack of management continuity and oversight, unrealistic scheduling of tasks, inadequate project integration, and inadequate resolution of issues raised in prior reviews on Trilogy.
Our report made nine recommendations to the FBI for improving its management of the remaining aspects of the Trilogy project and its IT management in general. Those recommendations included:
The FBI concurred with all of the recommendations.
In January 2005, the OIG issued an unclassified summary of its review of the FBI’s actions in connection with allegations raised by former FBI contract linguist Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds worked for the FBI from September 2001 until March 2002, when her services as a contract linguist were terminated. Prior to her termination, Edmonds raised a series of allegations regarding the FBI’s translation program, including security concerns about actions by a coworker related to potential espionage.
The OIG determined that Edmonds’ allegations against the coworker warranted a careful and thorough review by the FBI. Our investigation concluded that the FBI did not adequately investigate the allegations. Our review found that many, although not all, of Edmonds’ allegations about the coworker had some basis in fact and were supported by documentary evidence or other witnesses.
Edmonds also complained that she was terminated from the FBI in retaliation for her complaints. The OIG’s review concluded that her allegations were at least a contributing factor in the FBI’s decision to terminate her services.
In June 2004, the OIG issued a 100-page report classified by the FBI at the Secret level that examined the FBI’s actions in connection with Edmonds’ allegations. The report made eight systemic recommendations to the FBI in an attempt to help improve its foreign language translation program. Many of the recommendations related to the FBI’s hiring and oversight of contract linguists. The FBI responded that it had taken or was taking steps to implement most of the recommendations. The OIG provided copies of the classified report to the Department, FBI, and National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
The FBI’s Security Risk Assessment (SRA) program was established under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act) to control access to dangerous biological agents and toxins. Researchers who plan to work with these dangerous substances must submit applications to the FBI, which uses databases and other information sources to conduct background checks and completes SRAs on the applicants. The FBI forwards SRA results to the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, which are responsible under the Bioterrorism Act for granting or denying individuals access to biological agents and toxins.
The OIG initiated an inspection of the SRA program in response to concerns about a backlog of pending applications submitted by researchers seeking access to dangerous biological agents and toxins controlled under the Bioterrorism Act. The OIG found that the FBI had a large number of pending SRAs in late 2003 but had reduced that number significantly during the first six months of 2004. The FBI’s large caseload of pending SRAs was caused by processing problems that were resolved between November 2003 and June 2004. By June 2004, the FBI had reduced its number of pending SRAs from 3,855 to 401 and eliminated its SRA backlog. Since June 2004, the FBI has maintained a stable monthly caseload of approximately 339 pending SRA applications, which it processes routinely in 45 days or less.
The OIG concluded that the FBI has effective management controls that have resulted in the timely identification and correction of several program vulnerabilities. As a result, we believe that the FBI is effectively managing its SRA responsibilities under the Bioterrorism Act.
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, we audited five laboratories that participate in CODIS to determine compliance with the FBI’s Quality Assurance Standards and National DNA Index System (NDIS) requirements and evaluate the accuracy and appropriateness of the data that participating federal, state, and local laboratories have submitted to the FBI. Below are two examples of the findings reported in our audits:
During this reporting period, the OIG received 471 complaints involving the FBI. The most common allegations made against FBI employees included job performance failure, waste and misuse of government property, and improper release of information.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 41 open investigations of alleged misconduct by FBI employees. The criminal investigations cover offenses ranging from the improper release of law enforcement information to theft. The administrative investigations include serious allegations of misconduct, several of which are against high-level employees. The following are examples of investigations completed during this reporting period:
The Terrorist Screening Center is responsible for consolidating terrorist watch lists and providing operational support for thousands of federal screeners across the country and around the world. The FBI was assigned the responsibility of administering the Terrorist Screening Center. The OIG is examining the operations of the Terrorist Screening Center to determine whether it has implemented a viable strategy for accomplishing its mission, has effectively coordinated with participating agencies, and has appropriately managed terrorist-related information in its attempt to ensure that a complete, accurate, and current watch list is developed and maintained.
In December 2004, the OIG initiated a review of FBI employees’ observances and actions regarding alleged abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib prison, and other venues controlled by the U.S. military. The OIG is examining whether FBI employees participated in any incident of detainee abuse, whether FBI employees witnessed incidents of abuse, whether any observations of abuse were reported, and how those reports were handled by the FBI. We also are examining whether the FBI timely reported allegations of misconduct by any FBI employee in connection with detainee abuse to the appropriate entities. In addition, our review will investigate whether the FBI took inappropriate action or inappropriately retaliated against any FBI employee who reported any incident of abuse.
The OIG is auditing the FBI’s efforts to hire, train, and retain intelligence analysts. As part of the audit, we are reviewing: 1) analyst hiring requirements and qualifications, 2) progress toward meeting analyst hiring goals and retention of analysts, 3) progress toward establishing a comprehensive training program and meeting training goals, and 4) analyst staffing and utilization to support the FBI’s mission.
At the request of the FBI Director, the OIG is reviewing the FBI’s performance in connection with the handling of Katrina Leung, who provided information to the FBI’s Chinese Counterintelligence Program. Allegedly, Leung had a long-term intimate relationship with her FBI handler, former special agent James J. Smith. The OIG review is examining a variety of performance and management issues related to the FBI’s handling of Leung and its counterintelligence program.
The OIG is reviewing the FBI’s conduct in connection with the erroneous identification of a latent fingerprint found on evidence from the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombing as belonging to Brandon Mayfield, an attorney from Portland, Oregon. As a result of the identification, the FBI began an investigation of Mayfield, resulting in his arrest as a “material witness” and his detention for approximately two weeks in May 2004. Mayfield was released when the Spanish National Police identified the fingerprint and other prints found on the evidence as belonging to an Algerian national. The OIG is examining the FBI’s handling of this case and the cause of the erroneous identification.
In our September 2004 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on the internal effects of the FBI’s efforts to reorganize and reprioritize its work in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. As part of this transformation, the FBI established new priorities and moved a significant number of agents from traditional crime problems to counterterrorism issues. Consequently, other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies now must play a larger role in these more traditional investigative areas. The follow-up audit is providing updated analyses of those changes and examining aspects of the FBI’s reprioritization efforts within particular FBI field offices. We also are obtaining feedback from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies regarding the impact of the FBI’s reprioritization on their operations.
The OIG is completing its review of the FBI’s implementation of four sets of guidelines issued by the Attorney General on May 30, 2002: the Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants; the Attorney General’s Guidelines on FBI Undercover Operations; the Attorney General’s Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise, and Terrorism Enterprise Investigations; and the Revised Department of Justice Procedures for Lawful, Warrantless Monitoring of Verbal Communications. The objectives of the OIG review are to determine what steps the FBI has taken to implement the guidelines and assess the FBI’s compliance with key provisions of the guidelines.
In October 1994, Congress enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA). The purpose of CALEA is to preserve the ability of law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance in the face of rapid advances in telecommunications technology. The OIG audit is reviewing: 1) The FBI’s strategy for implementing CALEA; 2) the progress and impediments to CALEA’s implementation, including the effect of emerging technologies; 3) CALEA’s implementation costs, including projections of future costs; and 4) whether the implementation of CALEA has affected federal, state, and local law enforcement in their ability to conduct electronic surveillance.