FBI fixes focus on technology

An ambitious overhaul of the FBI will focus new attention on cybercrime and stress upgrades to the agency's information technology, director Robert Mueller announced.

The FBI also plans to let state and local police handle more crimes, such as bank robberies and drug offenses, so that federal investigators can concentrate on counterterrorism and counterintelligence, Mueller said Dec. 3.

Announcement of the overhaul came out months after Mueller took over as director of the FBI and promised to "restore the public's confidence" in the agency tarnished by a string of embarrassing mistakes. FBI missteps include disclosure that agents could not find 184 laptop computers and had lost more than 400 guns. The FBI also arrested one of its own, agent Robert Hanssen, on charges of spying for Russia.

Among the changes at the bureau, Mueller plans to create a cybercrime division to handle investigations of intellectual property theft and crimes involving advanced technology and computers.

Mueller also intends to name a chief technology officer to oversee modernization of the FBI's IT infrastructure.

Among the CTO's duties will be overseeing Trilogy, the agency's sweeping modernization project. Trilogy is designed to give FBI agents high-speed Internet access and computers and software to better organize, access and analyze investigation data.

Mueller also said he will create a records management office. The FBI was stung last spring when the Justice Department discovered 3,100 documents that the FBI had failed to turn over during the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

The FBI blamed an outdated computer records system. McVeigh's execution was delayed for a month while the FBI searched for additional missing files.

Mueller said the records management office will be expected to upgrade FBI records and knowledge management processes and policies. "Investigators and analysts must have access to, and confidence in, the information gathered during investigations. This has been an area of recurrent problems for the FBI," the agency said in an outline of its restructuring plan.

Mueller said he also plans to create an office for law enforcement coordination, which will improve the FBI's information sharing with state and local police agencies.

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