FBI Reorganization:

Progress Made in Efforts to Transform, but Major Challenges Continue

GAO-03-759T: Published: Jun 18, 2003. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2003.

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Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI needed to refocus its efforts to investigate those attacks and to detect and prevent possible future attacks. To do this the FBI has taken steps to change its priorities and sought to transform itself to more effectively address the potential terrorist threats. This testimony specifically addresses the FBI's (1) progress in updating its strategic plan; (2) development of a strategic human capital plan; (3) realignment of staff resources to priority areas; (4) reallocation of staff resources from its drug program; (5) efforts to recruit and hire new personnel to address critical staffing needs; (6) efforts to enhance its training program; and (7) implementation of new investigative authorities and internal controls to ensure compliance with the revised Attorney General's Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Enterprise Investigations and to help protect individual civil liberties.

Last June, GAO highlighted the importance of the FBI's success in transforming itself, noting several basic aspects of a successful transformation. Thus far, GAO is encouraged by the progress that the FBI has made in some areas in the past year, but a number of major challenges remain. The commitment of Director Mueller and senior level leadership to the FBI's reorganization and the FBI's communication of priorities warrant recognition. However, a comprehensive transformation plan with key milestones and assessment points to guide its overall transformation efforts is still needed. The FBI has also not completed updating its strategic plan and has not developed a strategic human capital plan, although it has made some progress in both these areas. To better ensure focus on the highest priorities, over the last year, several actions were taken, including permanently redirecting a portion of the field agent workforce from criminal investigative programs to counterterrorism and counterintelligence. However, the FBI continues to face challenges in critical staffing areas including: (1) utilizing staff resources from other criminal investigative programs to address counterterrorism, and (2) a lack of adequate analytical and technical assistance and administrative support personnel. The FBI's efforts to address critical skill needs and revise its training program are commendable. GAO also found internal controls in place to help ensure compliance with the revised Attorney General's Guidelines and protect individual civil liberties.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to testimony GAO presented before the House Appropriations Subcommittee in June 2003 (440161), and a correspondence (440237) forwarded to Director Mueller in September 2003, the FBI completed the development of a strategic human capital plan that GAO generally found to be consistent with GAO's Model for Strategic Human Capital Planning (440305). The FBI provided GAO with a copy (i.e., published version) of the plan in July 2004. Additionally, on October 11, 2005, the FBI announced the appointment of Donald E. Packham to be the FBI's Chief Human Resources Officer. In this position, Mr. Packham will oversee the FBI's human capital management functions, including recruiting, performance management, talent development, succession planning, compensation, benefits, and awards.

    Recommendation: The FBI should 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.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In fiscal year 2004, the FBI took action to link SES performance to pay. The new system requires that all future SES pay increases be based exclusively on individual and organizational performance. Additionally, as part of its transformation efforts, the FBI replaced the pass/fail system for professional support personnel (i.e., non-agent personnel, who include analysts, scientists, and technical specialists) with a new five-level performance appraisal system.

    Recommendation: The FBI should replace the current pass/fail performance management system with one that makes meaningful distinctions in employee performance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FBI has completed the update to its 1998-2003 Strategic Plan. GAO assessed the (2004-2009) update to the Strategic Plan and testified on this matter before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in March 2004 (code 440305), noting that overall, GAO found that the plan has important strengths, as well as some areas in which improvements could be made.

    Recommendation: The FBI should complete the update of its 1998-2003 Strategic Plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FBI has made progress in its transformation efforts as demonstrated by (1) commitment of Director Mueller and senior level leadership to the FBI's reorganization, (2) the FBI's communication of priorities, (3) the implementation of core reengineering processes to improve business practices and assist in the bureau's transformation efforts, (4) the dedication of an implementation team to manage the reengineering efforts, (5) involvement of employees, (6) the realignment of activities, processes, and resources to focus on a key set of principles and priorities, and (7) the development of an updated strategic plan (2004-2009) and a strategic human capital plan. In addition, the FBI has embedded crosswalks and timelines in their various transformation plans that relate one plan to another and has outlined some of its transformation efforts on its website. While the FBI did not develop a comprehensive transformation plan that pulls all of the pieces together in one document, the actions taken by the FBI meet the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The FBI should develop a comprehensive transformation plan with key milestones and assessment points to guide the Bureau's overall transformation efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On August 6, 2007, the FBI sent a memorandum to GAO that addressed the agency's efforts to closely monitor drug crime data to assess the impact of its resource alignment efforts on drug enforcement, its investigative priorities, and DOJ's 2003 drug enforcement strategy. GAO reviewed the documentation provided by the FBI and agrees that the FBI has taken appropriate actions to remain informed of the current trends and threats associated with drug trafficking in the United States and are engaged in counter-drug efforts in a limited capacity. The realignment of FBI resources to higher priority programs has resulted in an emphasis on joint, cooperative efforts with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to counter drug threats that have a direct impact on the United States.

    Recommendation: The FBI should closely monitor drug crime data to assess the impact of its resource realignment efforts on drug enforcement, its investigative priorities, and DOJ's new drug enforcement strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

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