DOJ OIG Releases Report on the FBI’s Management of its Confidential Human Source Validation Processes
READ THE REPORT:
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the
release of a report examining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) confidential human
source (CHS) validation processes. The FBI’s CHS validation processes involve vetting the
credibility of a CHS and assessing the veracity of the information the source provides.
Validation is critical to the overall integrity and reliability of the FBI’s CHS program.
The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified numerous issues related to the FBI’s
validation processes. The report also discusses issues with FBI CHS communications and the
FBI’s ability to ensure that its CHS network aligns with the most significant identified threats.
Some of the specific findings in the report released today include:
The FBI Did Not Comply with the AG Guidelines and Faces Ongoing Challenges in
Overseeing Long-Term CHSs. We identified a backlog of long-term CHSs awaiting
required validations. Both the Attorney General Guidelines Regarding the Use of FBI
CHSs (AG Guidelines) and FBI policy categorize CHSs based on several risk factors. The
AG Guidelines identify “long-term” operation of a CHS – a period of greater than 5 years
– as a risk factor, indicating a heightened need for validation. However, we found that
the FBI did not comply with the AG Guidelines’ requirements and its own policies and
procedures for managing long-term CHSs by not validating all long-term CHSs after 5
years as required. By not timely reviewing long-term CHSs for continued use, the FBI
risks retaining active CHSs who should have been closed for cause. We also found the
FBI’s long-term CHS validation reports insufficient because they did not review the full
scope of a long-term CHS’s work for the FBI. Moreover, FBI employees conducting CHS
validation reviews told us they were discouraged from documenting conclusions and
recommendations arising from the validation process.
FBI’s Current Validation Process Lacks Adequate Controls. We found that the FBI has
not implemented adequate controls in its latest validation process, creating a risk that
CHSs are not adequately scrutinized or prioritized. Specifically, the FBI’s current
validation process does not provide sufficient independent FBI headquarters oversight
and monitoring to ensure CHS risk is effectively mitigated.
Securing and Safeguarding Communications with CHSs. We found that the FBI lacked
clear guidance to inform its personnel of the acceptable platforms for communicating
with CHSs. Without clear guidance, we believe there is increased operational risk that
could result in agents and CHSs being put in harm’s way.
Coverage Gaps in the FBI’s Network of CHSs. We identified issues related to the FBI’s
ability to align its CHSs with its highest threat priorities. Specifically, we found that the
FBI lacked an automated process to analyze the threat areas in which it has CHS
coverage, and relied on an ineffective process that could result in outdated information.
In addition, we found that a proposed automated system being developed would rely on
data from several other FBI systems, including its CHS system of record which has
known issues related to data quality.
Today’s report makes 16 recommendations to assist the FBI and the Department of Justice in
improving the FBI’s CHS program. The FBI and Department of Justice agreed with all 16
recommendations and has started corrective measures.
The OIG initiated this audit in 2018, and had previously conducted reviews of the human source
programs at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2017 and the
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2016 and 2015.
Report: Today’s report is available on the OIG’s website under “Recent Reports” and at the
following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2019/a20009.pdf.
Video: To accompany today’s report, the OIG has released a 2-minute video featuring the
Inspector General discussing the report’s findings. The video and a downloadable transcript are
available at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/video-11-19-19.htm.
Leonard Bacani is a retired Santa Ana Police Officer and the Founder of HOMELAND SECURITY SERVICES, INC. headquartered in Southern California.HOMELAND SECURITY SERVICES, INC. is a Private Investigation, Private Security firm and State Authorized Training Facility. Contact Leonard at LBacani@hssinc.us for assistance or call the office: (714) 865-1135. Website: http://www.homelandsecurityservices.com