FBI Transformation:

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

GAO-04-578T: Published: Mar 23, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 2004.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
(202) 512-2758


Office of Public Affairs
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The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks precipitated a shift in how the FBI uses its investigative resources to prevent future terrorist incidents. The attacks led to the FBI's commitment to reorganize and transform itself. Today's testimony discusses the FBI's progress in carrying out its transformation process. Specifically, it addresses FBI's (1) progress in developing a comprehensive transformation plan; (2) efforts to update its strategic plan; (3) development of a strategic human capital plan; (4) information technology management leadership and practices; and (5) realignment of staff resources to priority areas and the impact of the realignments on the FBI's drug and other criminal investigation programs.

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.

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