Poor bill payment practices by the Federal Bureau of Investigation resulted in some of the bureau's wiretaps being turned off by the phone company because of late payments.
A report by the FBI's Office of the Inspector General found problems with the way the bureau has been handling confidential funds to support its undercover activities. The report criticized the antiquated Financial Management System the FBI has been using since 1986 to track and pay requests for confidential case funds at its field divisions.
The personnel must work around the system's limitations to enter and track requests for the confidential funds. Users are not able to enter details such as the vendor name or invoice number for the confidential case payments. Problems have also left the system open to exploitation. In June 2006, a telecommunications specialist at an FBI field division pled guilty to stealing over $25,000 in confidential case funds intended for undercover telecommunications services.
The inspector general analyzed 990 telecommunications surveillance payments made by five field divisions and found that over half the payments were not made on time.
"We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence, including an instance where delivery of intercept information required by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order was halted due to untimely payment," said the report.
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