Opening Statement of Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
"Reforming FBI Management: The Views from Inside and Out"
Today’s hearing, with its focus on management issues, is timely in light of the latest revelations concerning firearms unaccounted for at the FBI and 184 missing lap top computers – 4 of which may contain classified information. This is simply inexcusable. Apparently this was a Department-wide problem during the previous administration, as over 500 weapons are also unaccounted for at the INS. Lax administrative controls over sensitive materials like these cannot be tolerated. This is yet another example of why I think the FBI would benefit from a commission of outside experts doing a top to bottom review of the agency as Senator Schumer and I have proposed.
The latest revelations also highlight the challenges ahead for the new FBI Director, Bob Mueller, whose nomination I hope the Committee will consider as soon as possible.
I applaud President Bush for his choice. I think Bob Mueller will be an excellent Director. He is a principled and dedicated public servant with a proven record in law enforcement and reform. His no-nonsense style has served him well and helped him vastly improve the performance of the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco. I think he can do the same thing at the FBI.
There are many issues facing the FBI and I am pleased that today’s hearing will address solutions and not just problems. In addition to hearing some suggestions for organizational changes from the former head of US Customs Ray Kelly, we will hear from Assistant FBI Director Bob Dies, a 30 year veteran of IBM, who was hired by the FBI more than a year ago to supervise and implement its technology upgrades. I am very interested in discussing with him the current plan for information system upgrades at the FBI.
Technology is not, by itself, the answer to all of the problems at the FBI – but it is unquestionably an essential part of the solution. I am pleased to see that the FBI has reached outside itself to an industry expert to develop the best possible system to fit its needs.
Technology, however, is only a tool to enforce policies. It is people who must set the standards, make the value judgments and insist upon adherence.
I am pleased, therefore, that we also have with us today a key FBI official who is helping shape one set of policies critical to the FBI – internal security. Deputy Assistant Director Ken Senser, the new head of the FBI’s internal security program, is here to discuss the FBI’s plan for upgrading its security program. Like several key FBI officials, Mr. Senser’s background comes from outside the FBI. He is an 18 year veteran of the CIA, and I think he brings an important, independent, expert perspective on how the FBI can protect itself and its operations from internal and external security breaches.
I also welcome the testimony of the current and former agents on our second panel whose testimony will focus on internal discipline at the FBI and how the investigation and adjudication of disciplinary matters can be improved.
I applaud Attorney General Ashcroft for taking important and positive steps last week aimed at addressing misconduct issues. The Attorney General, on his own initiative, expanded the role of the Department of Justice Inspector General and gave that office original jurisdiction and right of first refusal over all allegations of misconduct by Justice Department personnel that are unrelated to the professional responsibilities of Justice Department attorneys related to their legal work.
This is an important step which immediately addresses the problem, without precluding additional Congressional action.
Some of the agents who will testify today have expressed concern over a perceived double standard, under which senior officials at the FBI are punished less severely than regular agents for the same infractions. This is a very serious issue and one that former Director Louis Freeh tried to address in August of 2000, by taking the constructive first step of eliminating the separate SES Disciplinary Board.
I would like to make part of the record a copy of a August 15, 2000 memo from Director Freeh setting forth his basis for changing the policy.
As described in the memo, some of the disparity in discipline is also the result of statutes and regulations. I think it is entirely appropriate for the Committee to examine this statutory scheme -- which restricts the types of discipline that can be given to senior officials – and whether it should be changed to equalize the available punishments for all employees, regardless of rank.
The statutory scheme, however, does not account for all cases of disparity of treatment and there have been cases where senior officials have probably been treated to leniently. Senior officials must be held to the highest standards of conduct. They must set the example for the rest of the agency. Any lasting improvements to the FBI’s culture will have to be embraced and enforced at the top. I think Bob Mueller is just the kind of guy who can make that happen.
One tool I want to give to the new Director is the benefit of an independent review of the agency by outside experts from a variety of fields. I have joined with Senator Schumer in sponsoring the FBI Review Commission Act of 2001, which would establish a mechanism for a first rate group of experts from a variety of fields like management, technology, and intelligence to do a thorough review of the FBI and make strategic recommendations to the new Director for improvements.
Such an independent group, with no turf to protect or axes to grind, could really help bring the best practices of the corporate and scientific worlds to bear on the challenges currently facing the FBI.
There will be a lot of suggestions for improvements to the FBI. Some are underway, others are being developed. We in Congress are right to scrutinize the plans for reform and to be vigilant in our oversight. We will not blindly accept changes, but will question and test them to ensure they will address the problems which exist. Through this process, and by working in collaboration with the Justice Department and the new FBI Director, I hope we can be a constructive part of a revitalization of the FBI.
Thank you again, for holding this important hearing and I look forward to working with members of the Committee on constructive ways of ensuring that the FBI always lives up to our high expectations.
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