FBI nominee pledges IT upgrade

Robert Mueller, who President Bush has nominated to be the new director of the FBI, promised to fix the bureau's antiquated technology as part of his effort to restore confidence in the beleaguered crime-fighting organization.

"I believe there is a need to rebuild infrastructure, to upgrade the information systems and to upgrade the systems and procedures to integrate modern technology," Mueller said July 30 during confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Every FBI manager indeed, every agent needs to be computer-literate. Not a computer programmer, but aware of what computers can and cannot do to assist them with their jobs," he told lawmakers.

The FBI has been reeling from a combination of high-profile blunders, including the loss of thousands of documents in connection with the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the loss of more than 100 laptop computers, including some containing classified information.

Mueller said that he would seek to fix such problems.

"If I have the honor of being confirmed by the Senate, I will make it my highest priority to restore the public's confidence in the FBI to re-earn the faith and trust of the American people," he said.

He noted, however, that the bureau is not perfect and that the next director faces "significant management and administrative challenges."

Several investigations into various FBI problems are ongoing. The Justice Department this month selected Andersen to conduct an overall review of the bureau's management structure and information systems. Meanwhile, the Justice inspector general is conducting several investigations, including one on the issues surrounding the loss of the McVeigh files. In addition, William Webster, former director of the FBI and the CIA, is leading a group that will make recommendations for improving the bureau's national security measures.

Mueller praised those reviews. "I believe these measures are an excellent start in a long-term process of modernizing the management practices of the FBI and, if confirmed, I look forward to receiving the recommendations of these various reviews," he said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, listed the bureau's security and IT problems as one of three core problems. The others are management problems and the FBI's insular culture, he said.

Senators said that they expect Mueller will be confirmed.

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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