FBI continues push to improve records management

To get a grip on its files, the FBI is busy converting 750,000 documents a day to a common electronic format.

The bureau is scanning its records at a facility dubbed the DocLab. The DocLab uses a dirty optical character reader process, as opposed to a corrected OCR process, to speed up operations, said William L. Hooton, assistant director of the FBI's new Records Management Division.

'We just don't have the time right now to do very high-quality OCR,' he said.

The purpose of scanning the records is to create databases to which the bureau can apply data mining techniques, Hooton said.

'We need to figure out how to manage our case files effectively,' he said. 'We have no real, in my opinion, records management system at the bureau.'

The FBI plans to conduct an inventory of its records, he said, and separate them into three groups: records to be destroyed, records that haven't been requested in the last five years but must be kept and records that have been requested in the last five years. The second group of records will be stored in offline systems; while the records used most recently will be housed in the Records Management Application system that the division is building.

The FBI in the spring consolidated almost 1,000 employees into the Records Management Division, bringing together staffs from 22 organizations to form the largest division at bureau headquarters.

The massive records effort came in response to criticism of the FBI's management of evidence. At Senate hearings early this year, the Justice Department's inspector general lambasted the bureau's record-keeping.

Hooton described project at a recent meeting of the National Capital Chapter of the Association for Information and Image Management in Arlington, Va.

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