FBI director cites progress in IT

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Committee hearing

The FBI’s director today cited the bureau’s progress in enhancing its information technology programs and its efforts in biometrics.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee the bureau had made progress in its IT upgrades. The upgrades he cited include Sentinel, the bureau’s Web-based case management system; DELTA, a human source management database; and e-Guardian, a suspicious incident reporting information-sharing system for federal, state and local law enforcement.

He also said an effort to implement a stronger, simpler user authentication for the Law Enforcement Online system is scheduled to be deployed in November. This is the FBI's secure network used to share unclassified information with registered law enforcement partners. Mueller also discussed the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system, the upgrade to its current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System that will include more biometric information.

“We are presently piloting a number of systems that hold promise to be very useful in not only the collection of biometrics data, but also support the rapid search of biometrics databases in the field,” he said.

During questioning about the backlog of name checks during the immigration process, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) asked whether the FBI’s biometric push was consistent with the intensive, by-hand search and retrieval methods used during the name-check process. The FBI has faced criticism over the backlog of name-check requests, specifically relating to the citizenship application process.

Mueller replied that when files come up in a background investigation, the FBI digitizes them. However, he noted that optical recognition software can only go so far with hand-written records.

Mueller also said the bureau was making progress in eliminating the backlog of background checks that relate to citizenship applications. He said that by November, the FBI plans to have completed background checks that have been pending for more than one year and by next June it plans to have 98 percent of those cases completed in 30 days.

Mueller also said since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the agency’s focus has shifted,  with more personnel performing counterterrorism, counterintelligence and cybersecurity duties.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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