Andersen hired to probe FBI systems, operations

Just weeks after Attorney General John Ashcroft announced plans to conduct a comprehensive review of the FBI, the Justice Department has hired Andersen to delve into the bureau's organization and operations, including its antiquated computer systems.

The study is the latest in a series of investigations into FBI problems and comes as lawmakers propose a variety of ways to fix what they regard as management shortcomings.

The Andersen study, which will cost $790,000, is being done on behalf of Justice's Strategic Management Council, an organization Ashcroft created to provide long-range planning. He said the council's review will include a management study of the FBI's policies and practices for information technology, personnel, crisis management and other issues.

Officials at Andersen (formerly Arthur Andersen) refused to comment on the project and referred calls to Justice.

In a June 20 memo to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Ashcroft ordered the comprehensive review to "identify and recommend actions dedicated to improving and upgrading the performance of the FBI."

Under the review, "Andersen will evaluate the organizational structure and mission of the FBI, including the agency's own perception of its mission and core values and how well its organizational structure is suited to identify and act on institutional and operational problems."

Andersen will review the FBI's policies and practices to include how bureau officials:

* Procure and maintain IT systems.

* Manage records and data.

* Manage human resources, including the recruitment, selection, hiring and retention of employees.

* Handle crises, focusing on the bureau's communications structure, its decision-making and command authority, and the relationship of headquarters officials to those in field offices.

Justice awarded the contract following a competition under the General Services Administration's Management, Organizational and Business Improvement Serv.ices contract, department officials said. The FBI has been reeling from a number of high-profile blunders this year, including its failure to turn over thousands of documents in connection with the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The delay in handing over those documents has been blamed in part on the FBI's inadequate computers.

Earlier this month, FBI officials acknowledged that 184 laptop computers were missing or stolen, including some with classified information.

The FBI has other reviews under way, including one by the Justice inspector general into the issues surrounding the loss of the McVeigh files. In addition, William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA, is leading a group that will make recommendations for improving the bureau's national security measures.

Ashcroft wants those investigations completed by Nov. 1 so the findings can be included in the Andersen report, which will be completed by January.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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