FBI gets records management act together

FBI gets records management act together

The FBI has a new awareness of the importance of records management, the assistant director for its new Records Management Division says.

Preventing acts of terror takes a different skill set from the bureau's traditional role of catching lawbreakers after the fact, William Hooton said last week at the E-Gov conference in Washington. Criminal evidence in itself is not an official bureau record, he said, but any analysis of the evidence is a record.

For 90 years the bureau had an efficient paper filing system, mostly because of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, Hooton said. Special agents used whatever filing approach made them comfortable, such as filing cabinets under their desks.

As long as the agents were solving their cases, bureau officials were reluctant to force any change, Hooton said. More recently, events combined to drive changes, from the post-Sept. 11 need to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies to the last-minute discovery of documents related to the Timothy McVeigh case, which delayed execution of the convicted Oklahoma City bomber for several weeks.

'We basically stumbled on some things we didn't know we had,' Hooton said. 'Congress went ballistic.'

Records management is getting strong support from director Robert S. Mueller III, Hooton said.
The Records Management Division has brought in 1,000 staff members from other divisions and has become the largest division at Washington headquarters. Hooton said Mueller also has authorized five new positions at the Senior Executive Service level.

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