Senate Appropriations Committee
September 8, 2000

Except for a brief period in the wake of the Nixon Watergate scandal in the mid 1970's, the actual enforcement priorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have rarely been critically scrutinized by Congress. But because the FBI has a finite number of investigators, an enforcement effort aimed at dealing with one crime problem necessarily means another problem will receive less attention. This reality prompted the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its report on FY 2001, to question the enforcement choices of the FBI. Quoting Justice Department data obtained by TRAC, the committee noted that about one half of the bureau's 1997 convictions concerned crimes that mostly could have been handled by state and local police agencies. "The FBI must resist the temptation to spread itself so thin," the report said. "Instead, by focusing on core missions [like national security, official corruption, and organized crime], the FBI can maintain its reputation as a premier law enforcement agency." The committee ordered the FBI to report on the areas of crime that the FBI can appropriately hand back to other agencies so it can focus on the bureau's true responsibilities.

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Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2000
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