Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 19, 2002

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

STATEMENT BY FBI DIRECTOR ROBERT S. MUELLER REGARDING THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT ON THE FBI'S HANDLING OF MCVEIGH DOCUMENTS:

We commend the Inspector General and his staff for a thorough, objective and independent examination of the issues. The resulting recommendations are constructive and we appreciated the opportunity to cooperate in this endeavor. For some time, we have been making major changes that both implement the recommendations, address the cultural and training issues inherent in a new way of doing business, and address the larger issue of records management as a priority core function.

While we are taking specific actions to address each concern raised by the Inspector general, a number of significant steps are well underway to overhaul our Bureau-wide records management capabilities, to increase accountability for compliance with established records procedures, and to put in place the training and skill sets necessary to bring about full employee "buy in" to a paperless environment. We very much appreciate the support and funding Congress has given to these crucial initiatives. For example:

* We have restructured organizationally to recognize that the creation, maintenance, use and dissemination of our records is a core function that must be fully supported by management as a priority. This has not been the case in past years. Our culture must be committed to automation and our leadership and training must be unequivocally in support of this new environment. To do this:

* We created a Records Management Division to ensure executive direction and full-time over-sight over all records policy and functions, consolidating all records operations to ensure consistency, thoroughness and accountability.

* A professional records management expert, Mr. William Hooton, has been hired from the private sector to run the office. He has been charged with modernizing our enterprise-wide records systems and developing comprehensive, enforceable policies and procedures to ensure records integrity. He also is charged with putting in place those quality control mechanisms that will detect anomalies and problems early on. It is critical that we manage information, not just the systems that support our records.

* Congress has funded and we are implementing extensive agency-wide training aimed squarely at evolving our culture to one that exploits technology in our everyday way of doing business. Leadership for this will come from the top.

* We have retrained every employee on proper document production, maintenance and retrieval and the importance of records management as a core function.

* Basic to any modern system of records is a modern information technology system, and modernization of our information technology is one of our top priorities. We are making sustained progress in this area. Congress has approved funding for the FBI to upgrade technologies and infrastructure for organizing, accessing, analyzing and sharing information throughout the FBI and beyond. Improvements which are currently underway include:

* Replacing the now antiquated Automated Case System in favor of a multimedia and near paperless "virtual case file" with significant improvements in capabilities that greatly reduce the possibility that future documents will be misfiled, lost or otherwise failed to be produced. The new system will dramatically decrease the potential for human error both by automatically doing many functions now done by manual intervention and by substantially reducing the number of opportunities for problems to occur that are inherent in our current systems.

* This new case file document management system, designed with substantial input from street agents, will be of huge benefit by greatly simplifying the records creation and maintenance processes, being user friendly, and by allowing us to manage "leads" far more effectively.

* The FBI's computer network is being completely revitalized to provide a "data warehousing" collaborative environment instead of application "stove pipes." The creation of "data warehouses" and ample supporting networks provide easier and more robust access to and sharing of information and results in integrated databases. The need for ad hoc crisis software applications will be eliminated.

* Private sector support to allow commercial software and professional scanning, indexing and storage of documents to move us rapidly out of the paper environment that was so vexing in the OKBOMB situation.

Sound records management and document accountability are at the heart of the FBI's ability to support investigations and prosecutions with information integrity. There can be no doubt about the accuracy, completeness and proper disclosure of the records we compile during our investigations and used by prosecutors in support of prosecutions. The ability to maintain, access and retrieve documents is critical to our mission and equally critical to our ability to protect the rights of those charged with crimes. It also is fundamental to robust analytical and information sharing capacities, both functions that we are rapidly enhancing. In short, records management and integrity are core functions that demand the same level attention and accountability as any function we undertake. It must be a part of our culture.

Finally, although his exhaustive investigation found no evidence of any intentional effort to withhold information from defense counsel, the Inspector General's report also criticizes the actions of certain FBI personnel. We are reviewing these criticisms and will quickly move to take any appropriate disciplinary actions.

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