Mueller confirmed with IT mandate

The Senate, by a vote of 98-0 on Aug. 2, confirmed Robert Mueller to be FBI director. Mueller, who is U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California and has a reputation as a tough but effective manager, inherits a troubled law enforcement agency rocked by spying, lying, misplaced files, lost or stolen weapons and other problems.

Not the least of the FBI's problems is its antiquated computer system, Mueller conceded during his confirmation hearing this week.

The FBI needs "to upgrade the information systems and to upgrade the systems and procedures to integrate modern technology," Mueller told 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 said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) put it more bluntly. "The FBI needs to join the 21st century. This is the Information Age, but the FBI's information technology is obsolete," he said.

More than 13,000 of the FBI's desktop computers are so old they cannot run today's basic software, and most of the FBI's smaller field offices have internal networks that are slower than the Internet connections most people use at home, Leahy said.

FBI databases are so old that FBI agents are unable to store photographs or graphical or tabular data on them, he said.

"The security and information technology problems facing the FBI are not a problem of money. The Congress has poured money into the FBI. This is a management problem," Leahy said.

After the confirmation vote, Leahy said he is confident Mueller is the man to fix the FBI's problems.

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