FBI Criminal Referrals for Prosecution Declining
In the months since 9/11/01, the overall number of FBI criminal enforcement actions has declined. In FY 2001 the FBI recommended that federal prosecutors bring charges against 39,060 individuals. In FY 2003, FBI referrals had declined to only 34,008. During the first quarter of FY 2004, the referrals were running at a rate -- if the trend continues (7,487 for the quarter or an estimated annual rate for FY 2004 of 29,948) -- indicating that the general decline for the full year will be substantial.
Those criminal matters the Justice Department classified as terrorism, anti-terrorism or internal security were sharply up, from 390 recorded in FY 2001 to 2,534 in FY 2003. But monthly figures for the first quarter of FY 2004 indicate that terrorism, anti-terrorism and internal security referrals peaked during the spring of 2003 and have been declining since (see graph). Even at their peak these cases still represent only a small fraction of the bureau's total criminal enforcement workload. (Much of the FBI's investigative and surveillance activities in the terrorism area, of course, never result in criminal cases.)
The data show numerous other shifts in bureau enforcement priorities. In the white collar crime and drug areas, for example, there were modest declines for both referrals for prosecution and for prosecutions. On the other hand, the bureau's involvement in government regulatory cases was significantly higher.
FBI referrals for criminal prosecution of civil rights violations were sharply lower, dropping from 2,060 in 2001 to 1,546 in 2003. The actual number of prosecutions that resulted from these referrals dropped by half (from 128 in 2001 to only 62 in 2003). This steep decline has special significance because the FBI has been the principal investigator in the civil rights area for many decades.
In another area, staffing, the data show that the events of 9/11 so far have had surprisingly little impact on the overall size of the FBI. In FY 1999, for example there were 28,192 employees on the bureau's payroll. At the time of 9/11 the staff was slightly smaller at 26,599. Today, while the number has increased slightly, it is still below its 1999 level with 27,687 employees at the end of the first quarter of FY 2004.
Changes within certain sensitive FBI occupations also were relatively small. In FY 2001 there were 1,013 "intelligence" employees, in the first quarter of 2004 there were 1,164. Those FBI employees classified as language specialist increased modestly, from 390 in FY 2001 to 411 in FY 2004. The small number of individuals specializing in cryptanalysis -- code making and code breaking -- declined from 23 to 15 at the end of the first quarter of 2004.
The enforcement and staffing figures described here were drawn from government data bases obtained by TRAC under the FOIA. To obtain selected district-by-district enforcement statistics updated through FY 2003, click on District Enforcement. For more detailed statistics as well as case-by-case information, go to TRACFED. The data there cover the first quarter of FY 2004.
Report Date: August 11, 2004