FBI management center will help bring order to paperwork goals

FBI management center will help bring order to paperwork goals

Bureau says $20 million office will upgrade ability to relay and compare data, maintain security

By Drew Robb

Special to GCN

Access to files can be restricted to a particular user or group of users, and the Information Management System logs unauthorized access attempts.

Although the pursuit of justice has changed dramatically since Al Capone went to Alcatraz for income tax evasion, proper analysis and management of paperwork remain key to the FBI's mission.

To improve its ability to relay and compare information, the bureau opened the $20 million Strategic Information and Operations Center at its Washington headquarters in November.'The 40,000-square-foot center is 10 times the size of its predecessor, FBI officials said.

Designed to act as a crisis management nerve center, SIOC can be reconfigured and compartmentalized depending on the cases active at any given time.'A 10-person team could operate the center, but it can also accommodate up to 450 people.

As SIOC deputy chief Ron Wilcox de-scribed it, the compartmentalization would let agents 'work in one room with District of Columbia police on a local kidnapping while [a group] in another room works on a terrorist bombing with top-secret data.' The new-look SIOC can deal with up to five national security crises simultaneously, Wilcox said.

In designing SIOC, the bureau wanted to make investigative data rapidly and broadly accessible while maintaining strict security. The previous document management application, the Automated Case System, ran on a mainframe computer and indexed document characteristics but stored files only in WordPerfect format.

ACS centralized the information about the case files, although the files themselves might be widely dispersed.

Most case documents were stored on paper, which had to be copied and shipped among the FBI's nine investigative divisions at headquarters, 56 domestic field offices, 37 overseas stations and 500 field locations. Aside from the slow retrieval, agents frequently complained of trouble tracking the status of document requests.

The bureau defined ACS' replacement as 'an electronic repository for SIOC-related case information, delivered through a single visual source regardless of the information type.' The Information Management System, or IMS, went onto the FBI's most-wanted list.

Built on the HighView document imaging and management system from Highland Technologies Inc. of Lanham, Md., IMS does ISIS-compatible batch scanning, bar coding, data extraction and indexing, optical character recognition, image processing and full-text searching. Once the FBI set the exact design specifications, IMS was customized and installed in about two months.

It 'lets us view text, images and video with a single tool,' IMS project manager Brad Yost said. 'We also have the capability to add audio clips. This puts the entire case file at our fingertips.'

IMS uses an Oracle Corp. database management system running under Microsoft Windows NT Server with RAID subsystems for storage.

For document imaging, it incorporates Canon USA Inc. GP30F and Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 6100C scanners.'The Canon GP30F digital multifunction imaging system does 400-dot-per-inch, 256-grayscale scanning, copying and printing from user desktops.

The HP 6100C flatbed scanner has 600-dpi resolution at 36-bit color.

Multiple IMS users can view files simultaneously without having to copy and distribute them. Files can be electronically routed to the agents working on a case.

Via batch scanning, OCR and Oracle's ConText theme-searching software, the bureau agents can extract details from case files and quickly match them against other cases.

Speed and security

Although access speed is vital, keeping the data secure is just as important. IMS sets security parameters pertaining to a particular case.

In conjunction with the FBI's audit tables and security designations, users can search for and retrieve files for which they are authorized, while generating lists invisible to them that show relevant documents of a higher classification.

The auditing system reports any attempted access to the higher-classified documents along with details such as time, frequency and source.

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