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The FBI’s Transformation Efforts

 

The FBI’s Transformation Efforts

 

Commerce-Justice-State Subcommittee Hearing on the Transformation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate. Statement of Laurie E. Ekstrand, Director Homeland Security and Justice Issues and Randolph C. Hite, Director, Information Technology Architecture and Systems Issues, General Accounting Office. Washington D.C. March 23, 2004. Part I

 

  • FBI Continues to Make Progress in Its Efforts to Transform and Address Priorities

What GAO Found We commend the FBI for its progress in some areas of its transformation efforts since we last testified on this subject in June 2003. We believe that commitment from the top, a dedicated implementation team, involvement of employees in the process, and the achievement of key milestones are encouraging signs of progress. However, we continue to encourage the development of a comprehensive transformation plan that would consolidate the crosswalks between the various aspects of transformation. This could help management oversee all aspects of the transformation.

 

The FBI’s strategic plan has been completed. Overall we found the plan has important strengths as well as some areas in which improvements could be made. For example, the plan includes key elements of successful strategic plans (i.e. a comprehensive mission statement and results-oriented, longterm goals and objectives.). However, the plan is missing some elements that could have made it more informative. Officials advised us that some of these elements are available elsewhere (i.e. lists of stakeholders and performance measures). The absence of these elements makes the plan less comprehensive and useful.

 

The FBI has also developed a strategic human capital plan that contains many of the principles that we have laid out for an effective human capital system (i.e. the need to fill identified skill gaps by using personnel flexibilities). However, the FBI has yet to hire a human capital officer to manage the implementation of this process and the performance management system for the bulk of FBI personnel remains inadequate to discern meaningful distinctions in performance.

 

The FBI recognizes the importance of information technology (IT) as a transformation enabler, making it an explicit priority in its strategic plan and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in initiatives to expand its systems environment and thereby improve its information analysis and sharing. However, FBI’s longstanding approach to managing IT is not fully consistent with the structures and practices of leading organizations. A prime example of the consequences of not employing these structures and practices is the cost and schedule shortfalls being experienced on Trilogy, the centerpiece project to modernize infrastructure and case management applications. Recent FBI proposals, plans, and initiatives indicate that it understands its management challenges and is focused on addressing them.

 

Another key element of the FBI’s transformation is the realignment of resources to better focus on the highest priorities

-         counterterrorism,

-         counterintelligence and

-         cyber investigations.

 

The FBI resources allocated to priority areas continue to increase and now represent its single largest concentration of field agent resources—36 percent of its fiscal year 2004 field agent positions.

 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

 

We are pleased to be here today to address this committee regarding GAO’s work assessing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) transformation efforts. As you are well aware, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were the most destructive and costly terrorist events that this country has ever experienced. The event precipitated a shift in how the FBI uses its investigative resources to prevent future terrorist incidents and ultimately led to FBI’s commitment to reorganize and transform itself. Today’s testimony follows up on our June 2003 testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary and Related Agencies on the FBI’s transformation efforts.(1)

 

It also draws on continuing work for the same sub-committee, the House Select Committee on Intelligence and several individual requestors.

 

We will discuss the FBI’s:

- overall progress in transformation, efforts to update its strategic plan, development of a strategic human capital plan, information technology management capabilities, and

- realignment of staff resources to priority areas and the impact of the realignments on the FBI’s drug and other criminal investigation programs.

 

In brief, we commend the FBI for its progress in its transformation efforts. We believe that commitment from the top, a dedicated implementation team, involvement of employees, and the development of strategic and human capital plans are encouraging signs of FBI’s reorganization progress. However, we want to note some activities that may enhance the value of future planning efforts, reiterate the importance of developing and tracking measures of progress toward achieving goals, discuss the history and future of IT efforts, and the shift in resources from the traditional crime areas to the new priority areas.

 

Our testimony today is based on interviews with management and program officials at FBI headquarters during the last 2 years. We also interviewed management personnel in FBI field offices;(2) and obtained input from special agents and analysts in FBI field offices last spring.(3)

 

Additionally, to assess the progress that the FBI has made in its transformation efforts, we reviewed information from an October 2003 and March 2004 briefing that the FBI provided to GAO on its transformation efforts and FBI’s recent strategic plan and strategic human capital plan. We compared these documents against GAO’s leading practices in the areas of organizational mergers and transformations, strategic planning, and strategic human capital management.

 

We focused on assessing the FBI’s strategic plan for key elements required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).(4) GPRA provides a set of practices for developing a useful and informative strategic plan that can be applied to any level of the federal government to improve the quality and informative value of strategic plans to Congress, other key stakeholders, and the staff charged with achieving the agency’s strategic goals. To make this assessment we used criteria we developed for assessing agency strategic plans under GPRA.(5) Our assessment is based on a review of the FBI’s strategic plan with limited information about the process the FBI undertook to develop the plan. We acknowledge that the FBI may be addressing these elements in other ways.

 

We reviewed FBI’s strategic plan to see how it addressed six key elements:

-         mission statement,

-         long-term goals and objectives,

-         relationship between the long-term goals and annual performance goals,

-         approaches or strategies to achieve the goals and objectives,

-         key external factors that could affect achievement of goals, and

-         use of program evaluation to establish or revise strategic goals.

 

Our analysis of the FBI’s information technology (IT) management capabilities is based on our prior work on the FBI’s enterprise architecture efforts and follow-up work to determine recent progress, information from the Justice Inspector General’s work on evaluating the FBI’s IT investment management process, and recent work on the organizational placement and authority of the FBI’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). We also used our prior research of CIO management practices of successful organizations and our evaluations of large IT modernization efforts similar to the Trilogy program. Further, we conducted follow up work with the FBI’s program management office to determine the cost and schedule overruns for Trilogy.

 

To address the effect of the FBI’s resource realignments on drug and other traditional law enforcement efforts, we analyzed FBI budgetary, staffing, and caseload data and interviewed selected FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and local law enforcement officials.(6)

 

We performed our audit work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. In our June 2003 testimony on the FBI’s reorganization before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies, we reported that the FBI had made progress in its efforts to transform the agency, but that some major challenges continued(7).

 

We also noted that any changes in the FBI must be part of, and consistent with, broader, government-wide transformation efforts that are taking place, especially those resulting from the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and in connection with the intelligence community. We also noted that to effectively meet the challenges of the postSeptember 11, environment, the FBI needed to consider employing key practices that have consistently been found at the center of successful transformation efforts.(8)

 

These key practices are to ensure that top leadership

-         drives the transformation,

-         establish a coherent mission and integrated strategic goals to guide the transformation,

-         focus on a key set of principles and priorities at the outset of the transformation,

-         set implementation goals and a time line to build momentum and show progress from day one, dedicate an implementation team to manage the transformation process,

-         use the performance management system to define responsibility and ensure accountability for change,

-         establish a communication strategy to create shared expectations and report related progress, involve employees to obtain their ideas and gain their ownership for the transformation, and

-         build a world-class organization that continuously seeks to implement best practices in processes and systems in areas such as information technology, financial management, acquisition management, and human capital.

 

Today, we continue to be encouraged by the progress that the FBI has made in some areas as it continues its transformation efforts. Specifically worthy of recognition are the commitment of Director Mueller and senior level leadership to the FBI’s reorganization; the FBI’s communication of priorities; the implementation of core reengineering processes to improve business practices and assist in the bureau’s transformation efforts(9); the dedication of an implementation team to manage the reengineering efforts; the development of a strategic plan and a human capital plan; the efforts to involve employees in the strategic planning and reengineering processes; and the FBI’s efforts to realign its activities, processes, and resources to focus on a key set of principles and priorities.

 

While the FBI has embedded crosswalks and timelines in their various transformation plans that relate one plan to another, we still encourage the development of an overall transformation plan that will pull all of the pieces together in one document. This document can be both a management tool to guide all of the efforts, as well as a communication vehicle for staff to see and understand the goals of the FBI. It is important to establish and track intermediate and long-term transformation goals and establish a timeline to pinpoint performance shortfalls and gaps and suggest midcourse corrections. By demonstrating progress towards these goals, the organization builds momentum and demonstrates that real progress is being made. We will continue to review this issue.

 

When we last testified in June 2003, the FBI was in the process of compiling the building blocks of a strategic plan. At that time it was anticipated that the plan would be completed by the start of fiscal year 2004. Although delayed by about 5 months, the FBI has since completed its strategic plan.(10) FBI officials indicated that the implementation of two staff reprogrammings and delays in the appropriation of its fiscal year 2003 and fiscal year 2004 budget, as well as initiatives undertaken to protect the homeland during the war in Iraq, delayed the completion of the strategic plan.

 

Overall we found the plan has some important strengths as well as some areas in which improvements could be made. The strategic plan includes key elements of successful strategic plans, including a comprehensive mission statement; results-oriented, long-term goals and objectives; and approaches to achieve the goals and objectives. The FBI plan presents 10 strategic goals that appear to cover the FBI’s major functions and operations, are related to the mission, and generally articulate the results in terms of outcomes the FBI seeks to achieve.

 

For example, one of the plan’s strategic goals is “protect the United States from terrorist attack;” another goal is “reduce the level of significant violent crime.” The plan also lists strategic objectives and performance goals for each long-term strategic goal. However, the performance goals do not appear to be outcomes against which the FBI will measure progress; rather they appear to describe approaches or be key efforts that FBI will undertake to achieve its long-term strategic goals and objectives.

 

Importantly, the plan acknowledges that the FBI faces competing priorities and clearly articulates its top 10 priorities, in order of priority. The strategic plan also frequently discusses the role partnerships with other law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security agencies will play in achieving the plan’s goals. The plan discusses the FBI’s approach to building on its internal capacity to accomplish its mission-critical goals by improving management of human capital, information technology, and other investigative tools. The plan also discusses the external factors, such as global and domestic demographic changes and the communications revolution, which have driven the development of its strategic goals.

 

Although the FBI has addressed several key elements in its strategic plan, the plan needs more information on other elements of strategic planning that we have identified as significant to successful achievement of an organization’s mission and goals. FBI officials indicated that some of these elements are available in other documents and were not included in the plan for specific reasons. As the FBI moves forward with its new strategic planning and execution process, it should consider addressing in its strategic plan the following key elements:

 

Involving Key Stakeholders: As we have previously testified, any changes at the FBI must be part of, and consistent with, broader governmentwide transformation efforts that are taking place, especially those resulting from the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and in connection with changes in the intelligence community. Successful organizations we studied based their strategic planning, to a large extent, on the interests and expectations of their stakeholders. Federal agency stakeholders include Congress and the administration, other federal agencies, state and local governments, third-party service providers, interest groups, agency employees, and, of course, the American public. Involving customers served by the organization—such as the users of the FBI’s intelligence—is important as well. The FBI strategic plan does not describe which stakeholders or customers, were involved or consulted during the plan’s development or the nature of their involvement. Such information would be useful to understanding the quality of the planning process FBI has undertaken and the extent to which it reflect the views of key stakeholders and customers. Consultation provides an important check for an organization that they are working toward the right goals and using reasonable approaches to achieve them.

 

Relationship between Strategic and Annual Goals: Under GPRA, agencies’ long-term strategic goals are to be linked to their annual performance plans and the day-to-day activities of their managers and staff. OMB guidance states that a strategic plan should briefly outline

(1) the type, nature, and scope of the performance goals being included in annual performance plans and

(2) how these annual performance goals relate to the long-term, general goals and their use in helping determine the achievement of the general goals.

 

Without this linkage, it may not be possible to determine whether an agency has a clear sense of how it will assess the progress made toward achieving its intended results.

 

It is not clear from the plan how the FBI intends to measure its progress in achieving the long-term strategic goals and objectives because the plan’s strategic objectives and performance goals are not phrased as performance measures and the plan does not describe or make reference to another document that contains annual performance measures. The plan also lacks a discussion of the systems FBI will have in place to produce reliable performance and cost data needed to set goals, evaluate results, and improve performance. According to an FBI official and documents the FBI provided, the FBI has developed “performance metrics” for each of its strategic goals.

 

External and Internal Factors that Could Affect Goal Achievement: While the plan clearly communicates how its forecast of external drivers helped to shape the FBI’s strategy, the plan does not discuss the external and internal factors that might interfere with its ability to accomplish its goals. External factors could include economic, demographic, social, technological, or environmental factors. Internal factors could include the culture of the agency, its management practices, and its business processes. The identification of such factors would allow FBI to communicate actions it has planned that could reduce or ameliorate the potential impact of the external factors. Furthermore, the plan could also include a discussion of the FBI’s plans to address internal factors within its control that could affect achievement of strategic goals. The approach the FBI plans to take to track its success in achieving change within the agency should be an integral part of FBI’s strategy. A clear and well supported discussion of the external and internal factors that could affect performance could provide a basis for proposing legislative or budgetary changes that the FBI may need to accomplish the FBI’s goals.

 

Role of Program Evaluation in Assessing Achievement of Goals and Effectiveness of Strategies: Program evaluations can be a potentially critical source of information for Congress and others in ensuring the validity and reasonableness of goals and strategies, as well as for identifying factors likely to affect performance. Program evaluations typically assess the results, impact, or effects of a program or policy, but can also assess the implementation and results of programs, operating policies, and practices. The FBI’s strategic plan does not explicitly discuss the role evaluation played in the development of its strategic plan or its plans for future evaluations (including scope, key issues, and time frame), as intended by GPRA. The FBI has redesigned its program evaluation process and updated the performance metric for each program. This information could have been, but was not included in the strategic plan. As discussed elsewhere in this testimony, the FBI has a series of reengineering efforts under way that relate to six core processes they are seeking to transform. A discussion of how these reengineering efforts relate to and support the achievement of the FBI’s strategic goals would be a useful addition to the FBI’s strategic plan.

 

We believe that an organization’s strategic plan is a critical communication tool and the credibility of the plan can be enhanced by discussing, even at a summary level, the approach the organization took in addressing these elements. As noted earlier, employee involvement in strategic planning, and transformation in general, is a key practice of a successful agency as it transforms. FBI executive management seems to have recognized this. Field office managers and field staff we spoke with last year generally reported being afforded the opportunity to provide input. For example, field management in the 14 field offices we visited in 2003 reported that they had been afforded opportunities to provide input into the FBI’s strategic planning process. In addition, 68 percent of the special agents and 24 of the 34 analysts who completed our questionnaire in 2003 reported that they had been afforded the opportunity to provide input to FBI management regarding FBI strategies, goals, and priorities by, among others, participating in focus groups or meetings and assisting in the development of the field offices’ annual reports. FBI managers in the field offices we visited and 87 percent of the special agents and 31 of the 34 analysts who completed our questionnaire indicated that FBI management had kept them informed of the FBI’s progress in revising its strategic plan to reflect changed priorities.

 

FBI management also seems to have been effective in communicating the agency’s top three priorities (i.e., counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber crime investigations) to the staff. In addition to the awareness of management staff in FBI headquarters and field offices, nearly all of the special agents and all of the analysts who answered our questionnaire indicated that FBI executive management (i.e., Director Mueller and Deputy Director Gebhardt) had communicated the FBI’s priorities to their field offices. Management and most of the agents we interviewed in the field were aware of the FBI’s top three priorities.(11) Further, over 90 percent of special agents and 28 of the 34 analysts who completed our questionnaire generally or strongly agreed that their field office had made progress in realigning its goals to be consistent with the FBI’s transformation efforts and new priorities. In prior testimony, we highlighted the importance of the development of a strategic human capital plan to the FBI’s transformation efforts, noting that strategic human capital management is the centerpiece of any management initiative, including any agency transformation effort. We noted that a strategic human capital plan should flow from the strategic plan and guide an agency to align its workforce needs, goals, and objectives with its mission-critical functions. We also noted that human capital planning should include both integrating human capital approaches in the development of the organizational plans and aligning the human capital programs with the program goals. In a September 2003 letter to the FBI director, we specifically recommended that the FBI:

(1) hire a human capital officer to guide the development of a strategic human capital plan and the implementation of long-term strategic human capital initiatives and

(2) replace its current pass/fail performance management system with one that makes meaningful distinctions in employee performance.

 

Although the FBI has not yet hired a human capital officer, it has developed a strategic human capital plan. This plan contains many of the principles that we have laid out for an effective human capital system.(12) For example, it highlights the need for the FBI to fill identified skill gaps, in such areas as language specialists and intelligence analysts, by using various personnel flexibilities including recruiting and retention bonuses.(13) Concerning the hiring of a human capital officer, the FBI has efforts under way to recruit and hire a qualified candidate.

 

The FBI said that it recognizes the need to review and revise its performance management system to be in line with its strategic plan, including desired outcomes, core values, critical individual competencies, and agency transformation objectives. It also recognizes that it needs to ensure that unit and individual performance are linked to organizational goals. A key initiative that has been undertaken by the FBI in this regard is the planning of a system for the Senior Executive Service that is based on, and distinguishes, performance. We have not reviewed the Senior Executive performance management system, but it should include expectations to lead and facilitate change and to collaborate both within and across organizational boundaries are critical elements as agencies transform themselves.(14) As yet, the performance management system for the bulk of FBI personnel remains inadequate to identify meaningful distinctions in performance. The FBI’s human capital plan indicates that the FBI is moving in the direction of addressing this need, and we are encouraged by this.

 

Clearly, the development of a strategic human capital plan is a positive step in this direction. However, the FBI, like other organizations, will face challenges as it implements its human capital plan. As we have noted before, when implementing new human capital authorities, how it is done, when it is done, and the basis on which it is done can make all the difference in whether such efforts are successful. Information technology can be a valuable tool in helping organizations transform and better achieve mission goals and objectives. Our research of leading private and public sector organizations, as well as our past work at federal departments and agencies, shows that successful organizations’ executives have embraced the central role of IT as an enabler for enterprise-wide transformation.(15) As such they adopt a corporate, or agencywide, approach to managing IT under the leadership and control of a senior executive—commonly called a chief information officer (CIO)— who operates as a full partner with the organizational leadership team in charting the strategic direction and making informed IT investment decisions.

 

In addition to adopting centralized leadership, these leading organizations also develop and implement institutional or agencywide IT management controls aimed at leveraging the vast potential of technology in achieving mission outcomes. These include using a systems modernization blueprint, commonly referred to as an enterprise architecture,(16) to guide and constrain system investments and using a portfolio-based approach to IT investment decision making. We have also observed that without these controls, organizations increase the risk that system modernization projects

(1) will experience cost, schedule, and performance shortfalls;

(2) will not reduce system redundancy and overlap; and

(3) will not increase interoperability and effective information sharing.

 

FBI currently relies extensively on the use of IT to execute its mission responsibilities, and this reliance is expected to grow. For example, it develops and maintains computerized systems, such as the Combined DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) Index System to support forensic examinations, the Digital Collection System to electronically collect information on known and suspected terrorists and criminals, and the National Crime Information Center and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System to identify criminals. It is also in the midst of a number of initiatives aimed at (1) extending data storage and retrieval systems to improve information sharing across organizational components and

(2) expanding its IT infrastructure to support new software applications.

 

According to FBI estimates, the bureau manages hundreds of systems and associated networks and databases at an average annual cost of about $800 million.

 

In addition, the bureau plans to invest about $255 million and $286 million in fiscal years 2004 and 2005, respectively, in IT services and systems, such as the Trilogy project. Trilogy is the bureau’s centerpiece project to

(1) replace its system infrastructure (e.g., wide area network) and

(2) consolidate and modernize key investigative case management applications.

The goals of Trilogy include speeding the transmission of data, linking multiple databases for quick searching, and improving operational efficiency by replacing paper with electronic files.

 

The FBI Director recognizes the importance of IT to transformation, and as such has made it one of the bureau’s top 10 priorities.17 Consistent with this, the FBI’s strategic plan contains explicit IT-related strategic goals, objectives, and initiatives (near-term and long-term) to support the collection, analysis, processing, and dissemination of information. Further, the FBI’s newly appointed CIO understands the bureau’s longstanding IT management challenges and is in the process of defining plans and proposals to effectively execute the FBI’s strategic IT initiatives. Nevertheless, the bureau’s longstanding approach to managing IT is not fully consistent with leading practices, as has been previously reported by us and others. The effect of this, for example, can be seen in the cost and schedule shortfalls being experienced on Trilogy.

 

Part II

 

Our research of private and public sector organizations that effectively manage IT shows that they have adopted an agencywide approach to managing IT under the sustained leadership of a CIO or comparable senior executive who has the responsibility and the authority for managing IT across the agency.(18) According to the research, these executives function as members of the leadership team and are instrumental in developing a shared vision for the role of IT in achieving major improvements in business processes and operations to effectively optimize mission performance. In this capacity, leading organizations also provide these individuals with the authority they need to carry out their diverse responsibilities by providing budget management control and oversight of IT programs and initiatives.

 

Over the last several years, the FBI has not sustained IT management leadership. Specifically, the bureau’s key leadership and management positions, including the CIO, have experienced frequent turnover. For instance, the CIO has changed five times in the past 24 months. The current CIO, who is also the CIO at the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), is temporarily detailed to the FBI for 6 months and is serving in an acting capacity while also retaining selected duties at EOUSA. In addition, the IT official responsible for developing the bureau’s enterprise architecture, the chief architect, has changed five times in the past 16 months. As a result, development and implementation of key management controls, such as enterprise architecture, have not benefited from sustained management attention and leadership and thus have lagged, as described in sections below.

 

In addition, the FBI has not provided its CIO with bureauwide IT management authority and responsibility. Rather, the authority and responsibility for managing IT is diffused across and vested in the bureau’s divisions. As our research and work at other agencies has shown, managing IT in this manner results in disparate, stove-piped environments that are unnecessarily expensive to operate and maintain. In the FBI’s case, it resulted, as reported by Justice’s Inspector General in December 2002,(19) in 234 nonintegrated applications, residing on 187 different servers, each of which had its own unique databases, unable to share information with other applications or with other government agencies. According to the acting CIO, the FBI is considering merging bureauwide authority and responsibility for IT in the CIO’s office with the goal of having this in place in time to formulate the bureau’s fiscal year 2006 budget request. In our view, this proposal, if properly defined and implemented, is a good step toward implementing the practices of leading organizations. However, until it is implemented, we remain concerned that the bureau will not be positioned to effectively leverage IT as an bureauwide resource.

 

As discussed in our framework for assessing and improving enterprise architecture management,(20) an architecture is an essential tool for effectively and efficiently engineering business operations (e.g., processes, work locations, and information needs and flows) and defining, implementing, and evolving IT systems in a way that best supports these operations. It provides systematically derived and captured structural descriptions—in useful models, diagrams, tables, and narrative—of how a given entity operates today and how it plans to operate in the future, and it includes a road map for transitioning from today to tomorrow. Managed properly, an enterprise architecture can clarify and help optimize the interdependencies and interrelationships among a given entity’s business operations and the underlying systems and technical infrastructure that support these operations; it can also help share information among units within an organization and between the organization and external partners. Our experience with federal agencies has shown that attempting to modernize systems without having an enterprise architecture often results in systems that are duplicative, not well integrated, unnecessarily costly to maintain, and limited in terms of optimizing mission performance.(21)

 

We reported in September 2003, that the FBI did not have an enterprise architecture to guide and constrain its ongoing and planned IT investments.(22) We also reported that the necessary management structures and processes—the management foundation, if you will—to develop, maintain, or implement an architecture were not in place. At the time, the bureau was beginning to build this foundation. For instance, the bureau had designated a chief architect, established an architecture governance board as its steering committee, and chosen a framework to guide its architecture development. However, it had yet to complete critical activities such as ensuring that business partners are represented on the architecture governance board, establishing a formal program office, adopting an architecture development methodology, and defining plans for developing its architecture. Further, it had not addressed other important activities, including developing written and approved architecture policy and integrating architectural alignment, into its IT investment management process. FBI officials told us then that the architecture was not a top priority and it had not received adequate resources and management attention. Consequently, we recommended, among other things, that the FBI director immediately designate development, maintenance, and implementation of an enterprise architecture as a bureau priority and manage it as such.

 

Since our report, the FBI has made architecture development an explicit imperative in its strategic plan, and it has made progress toward establishing an effective architecture program. For instance, the FBI director issued a requirement that all divisions identify a point of contact that can authoritatively represent their division in the development of the architecture. In addition, a project management plan has been drafted that identifies roles and responsibilities and delineates plans and a set of actions to develop the architecture. The FBI is also in the process of hiring a contractor to help develop the architecture. Current plans call for an initial version of the architecture in June 2004. However, until the enterprise architecture is developed, the FBI will continue to manage IT without a bureauwide, authoritative frame of reference to guide and constrain its continuing and substantial IT investments, putting at risk its ability to implement modernized systems in a way that minimizes overlap and duplication and maximizes integration and mission support.

 

Federal IT management law provides an important framework for effective investment management. It requires federal agencies to focus more on the results they have achieved through IT investments, while concurrently improving their acquisition processes. It also introduces more rigor and structure into how agencies are to select and manage IT projects. In May 2000, GAO issued(23) a framework that encompasses IT investment management best practices based on our research at successful private and public sector organizations. This framework identifies processes that are critical for successful IT investment, such as tracking IT assets, identifying business needs for projects, selecting among competing project proposals using explicit investment criteria, and overseeing projects to ensure that commitments are met.

 

Using GAO’s framework, the Inspector General evaluated the FBI’s IT investment management process in 2002, including a case study of Trilogy, and concluded that the process at that time was immature and had hindered the bureau’s ability to effectively manage IT.(24) Specifically, the Inspector General reported that the bureau lacked a basic investment management foundation. For instance, the bureau did not have fully functioning investment boards that were engaged in all phases of investment management. In addition, the bureau had not yet developed an IT asset inventory, the first step in tracking and controlling investments and assets. In a January 2004 follow-on report,(25) the Inspector General credited the bureau with developing a plan to implement the recommendations and assigning responsibility to the Project Management Office to execute it, but noted that the office had not been granted authority to carry out this task. Project Management Office officials stated that as of February 24, 2004, they had not yet been provided such authority. According to the acting CIO, the FBI is currently in the process of hiring a contractor to assist with implementing all IT investment management processes bureauwide, including addressing remaining Inspector General recommendations. Until these steps are completed and mature investment processes are in place, the FBI will remain challenged in its ability to effectively minimize risks and maximize the returns of investments, including ensuring projects do not experience cost, schedule, and performance shortfalls.

 

As discussed in the previous sections, the FBI has efforts proposed, planned and under way that, once implemented, are intended to establish an IT leadership and management controls framework that is consistent with those used by leading organizations. Until this is accomplished, however, the bureau will largely be relying on the same management structures and practices that it used in the past and that produced its current IT environment and associated challenges. As previously stated, these practices increase the risk that system modernization projects will not deliver promised capabilities on time and within budget. A prime example is Trilogy, the FBI’s ongoing effort to, among other things, modernize its systems infrastructure and investigate case management applications. It consists of three components:

 

Transportation Network Component, which is communications network infrastructure (e.g., local area networks and wide area networks, authorization security, and encryption of data transmissions and storage), Information Presentation Component, which is primarily desktop hardware and software (e.g., scanners, printers, electronic mail, webbrowser), and User Applications Component, which includes the investigative case management applications (26) that are being consolidated and modernized. This component is commonly referred to as the Virtual Case File, which when completed, is to allow agents to have multimedia capability that will enable them to among other things scan documents and photos into electronic case files and share the files with other agents electronically.

 

To date, the FBI’s management of Trilogy has resulted in multiple cost overruns and schedule delays. The table below details the cost and schedule shortfalls for each of the three components that comprise Trilogy. In summary, the FBI established its original project commitments in November 2000 but revised them in January 2002 after receiving additional funding ($78 million) to accelerate the project’s completion. About this time, the FBI also revised the Trilogy design to introduce more functionality and capability than original planned. Based on the January 2002 commitments, the first two components of Trilogy were to be completed in July 2002, and the third was to be completed in December 2003. However, the project’s components have collectively experienced cost overruns and schedule delays totaling about $120 million and at least 21 months, respectively.

 

These Trilogy shortfalls in meeting cost and schedule commitments can be in part attributed to the absence of the kind of IT management controls discussed earlier. Specifically, in its study of the FBI’s investment management processes which included a case study of Trilogy, the Inspector General cited the lack of an enterprise architecture and mature IT investment management processes as the cause for missed Trilogy milestones and uncertainties associated with the remaining portions of the project. In our view, a major challenge for FBI going forward will be to effectively manage the risks associated with developing and acquiring Trilogy and other system modernization priorities discussed in its strategic plan, while the bureau is completing and implementing its enterprise architecture and other IT-related controls and is adopting a more centralized approach to IT management leadership. As we pointed out in our June 2003 testimony and our follow-up letter to the FBI in September 2003, a key element of the FBI’s reorganization and successful transformation is the realignment of resources to better ensure focus on the highest priorities. Since September 11, the FBI has permanently realigned a substantial number of its field agents from traditional criminal investigative programs to work on counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations. Additionally, the bureau has had a continuing need to temporarily redirect special agent and staff resources from other criminal investigative programs to address higher-priority needs. Thus, staff continue to be redirected from other programs such as drug, white collar, and violent crime to address the counterterrorismrelated workload demands. The result of this redirection is fewer investigations in these traditional crime areas.

 

We want to make clear that we in no way intend to fault the FBI for the reassignment of agents from drug enforcement, violent crime, and white collar crime to higher-priority areas. Indeed, these moves are directly in line with the agency’s priorities and in keeping with the paramount need to prevent terrorism.(27) In 2002, the FBI Director announced that in keeping with its new priorities, the agency would move over 500 field agent positions from its drug, violent crime, and white collar crime programs to counterterrorism. The FBI has transferred even more agent positions than it originally announced and has augmented those agents with short-term reassignment of additional field agents from drug and other law enforcement areas to work on counterterrorism.(28) As figure 1 shows, about 25 percent of the FBI’s field agent positions were allocated to counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber crime programs in prior to the FBI’s change in priorities. Since that time, as a result of the staff reprogrammings(29) and funding for additional special agent positions received through various appropriations, the FBI staffing levels allocated to the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber program areas have increased to about 36 percent and now represent the single largest concentration of FBI resources and the biggest decrease is in organized crime and drugs.(30)

 

The FBI’s staff reprogramming plans, carried out since September 11, have now permanently shifted 674 field agent positions(31) from the drug, white collar crime, and violent crime program areas to counterterrorism and counterintelligence. In addition, the FBI established the Cyber program, which consolidated existing cyber resources.

 

Despite the reprogramming of agent positions in fiscal year 2003 and the additional agent positions received through various supplemental appropriations since September 11, agents from other program areas continue to be temporarily redirected to work on leads in the priority areas, including counterterrorism-related leads.(32) This demonstrates a commitment on the part of the FBI to staff priority areas.

 

As figure 2 shows, the average number of field agent workyears charged to investigating counterterrorism-related matters has continually outpaced the number of agent positions allocated to field offices for counterterrorism since September 11.(33) The FBI’s current policy is that no counterterrorism leads will go unaddressed even if addressing them requires a diversion of resources from other criminal investigative programs such as the drug, violent, and white collar crime.

 

As we previously reported, as the FBI gains more experience and continues assessing risk in a post-September 11 environment, it should gain more expertise in deciding which matters warrant additional investigation or investment of investigative resources. However, until the FBI develops a mechanism to systematically analyze the nature of leads and their output, the FBI will have to continue its substantial investment of resources on counterterrorism-related matters to err on the side of safety. We are not intending to imply that, even with more information from past experience, that all leads should not be investigated, but more analytical information about leads could help prioritize them.

 

Neither the FBI nor we were in a position to determine the right amount of staff resources needed to address the priority areas. However, the body of information that might help to make these determinations is growing. Since the September 11 attacks, the FBI has updated its counterterrorism threat assessment and has gained additional experience in staffing priority work. This development, along with an analysis of the nature of all leads (those that turn out to be significant and those that do not) and the output from them, could put the bureau in a better position to assess the actual levels of staff resources that the agency need in counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber programs. Of course, any new terrorist incidents would again, upset the balance and require additional staff in the priority areas.

 

An FBI counterterrorism manager we spoke with during a recent field office visit said that to develop a system to determine which terrorist leads to pursue and which ones to not pursue would be a complex task. He noted that in the past there would have been some citizen contacts that the FBI may not have generally pursued, but said that now any lead, regardless of its nature, is followed up. He observed that following up on some of these leads have resulted in the arrests and convictions of terrorists. For example, the FBI manager recounted a telephone lead from a tour boat operator who reported concerns about a passenger who was taking photographs of bridges and asking unusual questions about infrastructure. That lead started an investigation that led to the arrest of, and criminal charges against, the suspect, who was alleged to be plotting a terrorist attack.

 

According to FBI officials, information from leads is collected in a database that can be searched in a number of ways to help in investigations. To the extent that more systematic and sophisticated analysis routines can be developed and applied to these data (or any expansions of this data set) the FBI may be able to develop richer information about the relative risk of leads. This information could help prioritize work and manage scarce resources. While we agree with the FBI counterterrorism manager we cited above who labeled this a complex task, the potential value of the output, given that resources are always limited, seems worth the investment. The level of effort in counterterrorism is further reflected in the number of counterterrorism matters that have been opened following September 11. As figure 3 shows, the number of newly opened counterterrorism matters has remained significantly above the pre-September 11 levels, peaking in the second quarter of fiscal year 2003 and dropping somewhat in the most recent quarters. Use of field agent staff resources in other traditional criminal investigative programs (such as drug enforcement, violent crime, and white collar crime) has continuously dropped below allocated levels as agents from these programs have been temporarily reassigned to work on counterterrorism-related matters. As would be expected, the number of newly opened drug, violent crime, and white collar crime cases has fallen in relation to the decline in the number of field agent positions allocated or assigned to work on these programs.

 

The change in priorities and the accompanying shift in investigative resources have affected the FBI’s drug program the most. Nearly half of the FBI field agent drug positions have been permanently reallocated to priority program areas. Since September 11, about 40 percent of the positions allocated to FBI field offices’ drug program have been reallocated to counterterrorism and counterintelligence priority areas. As figure 4 shows, just prior to September 11, about two-thirds (or 890) of the 1,378 special agent positions allocated to FBI field offices for drug program matters were direct-funded.34 The remaining one-third (or 488) of the special agent positions was funded by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force program (OCDETF). As of the first quarter of fiscal year 2004, the number of direct-funded positions allocated to FBI field offices for the drug program had decreased over 60 percent, going from 890 to 337. OCDETF-funded agent positions, which have remained constant, now account for about 60 percent of the FBI field offices’ drug program staff resources.

 

While this reduction represents a substantial decline in the number of field agent positions allocated to drug work, in fact, the reduction in drug enforcement work years was actually larger than these figures reflect. Specifically, as needs arose for additional agents to work counterterrorism leads, field agents assigned to drug program squads were temporarily reassigned to the priority work. As figure 5 shows, at the extreme, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2002 (just after the events of September 11), while 1,378 special agent positions were allocated to drug work, only about half of these staff resources worked in the FBI drug program. In mid-fiscal year 2003, the allocated number of drug agent positions and the average number of field agent work years charged to drug matters started to converge toward the new targeted levels. Since that time, however, the FBI has had to redirect additional field agents allocated to its drug program to counterterrorism and other priority areas. As of the second quarter of fiscal year 2004, about a quarter (225 of 825) of the agents assigned to the FBI’s drug program were actually working in higher priority areas. The reduction in drug enforcement resources has reduced both the number of drug squads in FBI field offices as well as the number of FBI agents supporting the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program initiatives, according to FBI officials.(35)

 

The significant reduction in agent strength in the drug enforcement area is likely to be an important factor in the smaller number of FBI drug matters opened in fiscal year 2003 and the first quarter of fiscal year 2004. As figure 6 shows, the number of newly opened drug matters went from 2420 in fiscal year 1998 to 950 in fiscal year 2002 and to 587 in fiscal year 2003.

 

The FBI’s transformation effort is driven in part by challenges facing the federal government as a whole to modernize business processes, information technology, and human capital management. It is also driven by the need to make organizational changes to meet changes in its priorities in the post-September 11 environment. This effort will require a structure for guiding and continuously evaluating incremental progress of the FBI’s transformation. It must also be carried out as part of, and consistent with, broader government-wide transformation efforts that are taking place, especially those resulting from the establishment of DHS and in connection with the intelligence community. The FBI has made substantial progress, as evidenced by the development of both a new strategic plan and a strategic human capital plan, as well as its realignment of staff to better address the new priorities. Although the new strategic plan and strategic human capital plans include cross walks to each other, we still believe that an overall transformation plan is more valuable in managing the transformation process. The FBI is also making progress in strengthening its management of IT, including establishing institutional IT management controls and considering changes to the scope of CIO’s authority over IT spending.

 

Impacts of the FBI shift in field agent resources on crime programs including the FBI’s drug, white collar, and violent crime programs should be monitored. Our ongoing work, which we expect to complete later this year, will provide information on whether other federal and state resources are replacing lost FBI resources in the traditional crime areas and on whether reductions in FBI drug program field agents have had an impact on the price, purity, availability, and use of illegal drugs. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you and the Subcommittee members may have.

 

For further information about this statement, please contact Laurie E. Ekstrand, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, on (202) 512-8777 or at ekstrandl@gao.gov or Charles Michael Johnson, Assistant Director, Homeland Security and Justice, on (202) 512-7331 or at johnsoncm@gao.gov.

 

For further information on governmentwide Information Technology issues, please contact Randolph C. Hite, Director, Information Technology Architecture and Systems Issues, on (202) 5126256 or at hiter@gao.gov. For further information on governmentwide human capital or transformation issues, please contact J. Christopher Mihm, Director, Strategic Issues, on (202) 512-6806 or at mihmj@gao.gov  

 

Major contributors to this testimony included William Bates, R. Rochelle Burns, Katherine Chu-Hickman, Orlando Copeland, Elizabeth Curda, Benjamin Jordan, Deborah Knorr, Jessica Lundberg, Paula Moore, Gary Mountjoy, Lisa Shibata, Sarah E. Veale, and Angela Watson.

 

-         Footnotes

 

(1) See U.S. General Accounting Office, FBI Reorganization: Progress Made in Efforts, but Major Challenges Continue, GAO-03-759T (Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2003).

 

(2) We judgmentally selected field offices with the largest number of special agent positions to be reallocated either away from drug enforcement or to the counterterrorism program areas based on the FBI’s May 2002 reallocation plans. As a result, we visited the FBI’s Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Washington field offices in 2003 and the Dallas, Miami, and Washington field offices in 2004.

 

(3) We obtained input from 176 special agents and 34 analysts. These FBI investigative resources were not randomly selected from all agents and analysts in the 14 offices we visited. In addition, we did not specifically choose the agents who completed our questionnaire. FBI field office managers selected agents and analysts to participate in our inquiry. Consequently, we consider the questionnaire and interview results to be indicators of the FBI’s transformation efforts but they cannot be generalized to all agents and analysts in these offices or to the FBI nationwide.

 

(4) Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (1993).

 

(5) U.S. General Accounting Office, Agencies’ Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to Facilitate Congressional Review, GAO/GGD-10.1.16 (Washington, D.C.: May 1, 1997). U.S. General Accounting Office, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118 (Washington, D.C.: June 1996).

 

(6) We interviewed officials from the National Sheriffs’ Association, National Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and local police agencies located in most of the cities in which we made FBI field office visits in 2003.

 

(7) U.S. General Accounting Office, FBI Reorganization: Progress Made in Efforts to Transform, but Major Challenges Continue GAO-03-759T (Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2003).

 

(8) For more information, see U.S. General Accounting Office, Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformation GAO-03-669 (Washington, D.C.: July 2, 2003).

 

(9) The FBI has core-reengineering processes under way in the following areas:

(1) strategic planning and execution,

(2) capital (human and equipment),

(3) information management,

(4) investigative programs,

(5) intelligence, and

(6) security management.

There are about 40 business process-reengineering initiatives under these six core areas. Appendix I outlines the various initiatives under each core area.

 

(10) Strategic planning is one of about 40 ongoing reengineering projects the FBI has to undertaken to address issues related to its transformation efforts.

 

(11) Over 80 percent of the special agents and 24 of the 34 analysts who completed our questionnaire in 2003 ranked counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber crime investigations as the FBI’s first, second, and third priorities, respectively.

 

(12) U.S. General Accounting Office A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-02-373SP, Washington, D.C.: (March 2002).

 

(13) U.S. General Accounting Office Human Capital: Effective Use of Flexibilities Can Assist Agencies in Managing Their Workforces, GAO-03-2, Washington, D.C.: (Dec. 6, 2002).

 

(14) U.S. General Accounting Office, Results-Oriented Cultures: Using Balanced Expectations to Manage Senior Executive Performance, GAO-02-966 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 27, 2002).

 

(15) U.S. General Accounting Office, Maximizing the Success of Chief Information Officers: Learning from Leading Organizations, GAO-01-376G (Washington, D.C.: February 2001) and U.S. General Accounting Office, Architect of the Capitol: Management and Accountability Framework Needed for Organizational Transformation, GAO-03-231 (Washington, D.C.: January 2003).

 

(16) An architecture is a set of descriptive models (e.g., diagrams and tables) that define, in business terms and in technology terms, how an organization operates today, how it intends to operate in the future, and how it intends to invest in technology to transition from today’s operational environment to tomorrow’s.

 

(17) For example, see Federal Bureau of Investigation, Statement of Robert S. Mueller, III, Federal Bureau of Investigation before the Subcommittee for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, (Washington, D.C.: June 2002).

 

(18) For example, see GAO-03-231 and GAO-01-376G.

 

(19) U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Management of Information Technology Investments, Report 03-09 (Washington, D.C.: December 2002).

 

(20) U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management (Version 1.1), GAO-03-584G (Washington, DC: April 2003).

 

(21) See for example, U.S. General Accounting Office, DOD Business Systems Modernization: Improvements to Enterprise Architecture Development and Implementation Efforts Needed, GAO-03-458, (Washington, D.C.: February 2003); Information Technology: DLA Should Strengthen Business Systems Modernization Architecture and Investment Activities, GAO-01-631 (Washington, D.C.: June 2001); and Information Technology: INS Needs to Better Manage the Development of Its Enterprise Architecture, GAO/AIMD-00-212 (Washington, D.C.: August 2000).

 

(22) U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology: FBI Needs an Enterprise Architecture to Guide Its Modernization Activities, GAO-03-959 (Washington, D.C.: September 2003) and U.S. General Accounting Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Comments on Recent GAO Report on its Enterprise Architecture Efforts, GAO-04-190R (Washington, D.C.: November 2003).

 

(23) U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology Investment Management: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity, Exposure Draft, GAO/AIMD-10.1.23 (Washington, D.C.: May 2000). In March 2004, GAO updated this version: U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology Investment Management: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity, Version 1.1, GAO-04-394G (Washington, D.C.: March 2004).

 

(24) Department of the Justice, Office of the Inspector General Report 03-09.

 

(25) U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Action Required on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Management of Information Technology Investments, Audit Report Number 03-09, (Washington, D.C.: January 2004).

 

(26) According to the FBI, the existing applications are Integrated Intelligence Information Application (a database of over 20 million records supporting collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence for national security and counterterrorism investigations); Criminal Law Enforcement Application (a repository for storing, searching, and linking investigative data about people, organizations, locations, vehicles, and communications); Telephone Application (FBI’s central repository supporting collection, analysis, correlation and processing of telephone records for investigations); and Automated Case Support (a suite of integrated applications for managing, storing and searching information and documents for FBI investigations and administrative cases).

 

(27) We currently have work under way for the House Appropriations Subcommittee to assess the impact of the FBI’s realignment of resources away from drug and other traditional criminal programs, including an assessment of changes in price, purity, and use of illegal drugs. We expect to report out on this effort later in the year.

 

(28) The FBI later in fiscal year 2003 initiated another reprogramming to permanently reallocate about an additional 160 agent positions from its drug program to one of the priority areas.

 

(29) The FBI has the authority to reprogram funds (i.e., move funds between activities within a given account) without notifying the relevant appropriations committees unless a specific purpose is prohibited or the amount of the reprogramming exceeds a dollar threshold ($500,000 or a 10-percent change in funding level, whichever is less). Any other reprogramming action requires notification of the relevant appropriations committee 15 days in advance of the reprogramming.

 

(30) These percentages differ from those reported in our June 18, 2003 testimony (GAO-03759T), which were limited to direct funded field agent positions.

 

(31) The figure of 674 positions excludes 11 supervisory positions that were returned to the drug program.

 

(32) The FBI has certain managerial flexibilities to temporarily redirect staff resources to address critical needs and threats.

 

(33) A workyear represents the full-time employment of one worker for 1 year. For this statement, a matter is an allegation that is being or has been investigated by the FBI.

 

(34) FBI’s drug program workforce is composed of field agent positions funded through direct FBI appropriations and those supported with OCDETF funds. The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to focus federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts against organized crime drug-trafficking organizations that pose the most serious threat to our national interests.

 

(35) The HIDTA program began in 1990 to provide federal assistance to help coordinate and enhance federal, state, and local drug enforcement efforts in areas of major illegal drug production, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and use.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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