Observations on the FBI's Interstate Identification Index

GGD-85-4: Published: Oct 16, 1984. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the status and implementation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Interstate Identification Index (Triple I) which is an automated information system used to exchange criminal history records and related information between federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies.

In addition to the Triple I information system, which is managed jointly by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, FBI operates another criminal history information system which collects and maintains detailed criminal history information on individuals and provides it upon request to authorized agencies. FBI plans to complete the automation of this system by 1988, and it plans to eliminate duplication by merging the two systems by that date. GAO found that, while Triple I is still considered a test program, the system is operational in 16 states. Participating state and federal officials report that the system is useful, effective, and desirable. Startup costs were less than $1 million for FBI and averaged about $36,000 for participating states. According to FBI officials, continued automation will be needed to provide better fingerprint identification services and to prepare for the merger. However, GAO found that differences in state laws for disseminating criminal justice records to organizations outside the criminal justice system pose a barrier to fully shifting recordkeeping responsibility from FBI to the states, which may limit the extent to which Triple I can be relied upon for disseminating records for employment and licensing purposes.

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