About the Data

Data Coverage

The information about the federal enforcement of the criminal laws by the FBI and the Justice Department on this Web site comes from many sources. This is a guide to the major agency data sources that were used. It is organized by Web site area.

  • FBI at Work This area summarizes information and findings on the Web site, and the sources for these are discussed in each applicable area. Additional information is drawn from a book by TRAC's co-director, David Burnham, Above the Law: Secret Deals, Political Fixes and Other Misadventures of the U.S. Department of Justice,  Scribner [New York, 1996], supplemented by government reports.

  • New Findings In addition to data sources listed below, TRAC has compiled information from FBI budget reports, Congressional Research Service, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Administrative office of the U.S. Courts.

  • District Enforcement Annual Layers
    The primary source for these figures is the federal prosecutor database of the U.S. Justice Department. Note that the Justice Department is now withholding lead charge information from records of referrals which are still pending, as well as on fugitive cases. This affects fiscal years 1999 - 2001. Complete information on lead charge has been released on dispositions. But complete information on lead charge for new referrals is unavailable. Full information on new referrals is available by agency and program category.

    Population figures used in computing per capita rates and ranks are from the United States Census Bureau. Coverage includes all referrals recommending criminal prosecution recorded as received by federal prosecutors where the Federal Bureau of Investigation is recorded by Justice as the lead investigative agency. All criminal enforcement figures are based upon number of individuals (defendants or potential defendants) involved -- rather than number of cases. A single referral or case filed in court may involve more than one individual. Each defendant involved is separately counted in these figures.

    The 2000 state breakdown for FBI criminal investigators includes those assigned to headquarters staff as well as specialized facilities. The same is true for 1998 figures. However, the FBI 1994 field staff figures are based upon the number of individuals on the payroll at the end of the fiscal year. Headquarters staff as well as staff in specialized facilities located outside of Washington, D.C. are excluded from these 1994 counts.

  • National Profile and Enforcement Trends Over Time
    This area combines information used on the District Enforcement layers with additional sources which trace enforcement activities over a longer time period. In addition to the sources used in the District Enforcement layers, historical staffing information about the FBI was obtained from the agency and from the Office of Personnel Management.

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