Subscribe for 17¢ / day

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department has hired consulting firm Arthur Andersen LLP to conduct a management study at the FBI and recommend changes to improve the troubled agency, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday.

The study is part of a broad Justice Department review of the FBI ordered by Ashcroft following a string of bungles that included mishandling Oklahoma City bombing documents and revelations of an FBI agent spying for Moscow.

In the latest FBI mishap, the bureau said this week that hundreds of FBI weapons were missing or stolen and 184 laptop computers, including one containing classified information, couldn’t be found.

Arthur Andersen will look at the FBI’s organizational structure, review FBI policies regarding recordkeeping, technology, and human resources, and examine how the FBI reacts to crises.

The government will pay $790,000 for the study.

The FBI has been under fire by critics who say the bureau tries to cover up mistakes and does a poor job of policing itself. At a hearing this week on Capitol Hill, FBI employees told lawmakers that senior officials are not held accountable when things go wrong and agents who cooperate with internal investigations suffer retaliation.

“This study by a firm of Andersen’s caliber will provide valuable information to enhance the institutional integrity and performance of the FBI,” said Ashcroft.

The FBI is already under investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, an internal watchdog division that is looking into internal security issues following the case of Robert Hanssen, a 25-year FBI veteran who spied for Moscow for 15 years, and investigating the belated discovery of Oklahoma City bombing documents.

The Hanssen matter is also being investigated by a panel of experts led by former FBI and CIA director William Webster.

A Justice Department management committee comprised of Ashcroft’s top deputies is also conducting a review of the agency that will incorporate recommendations from Arthur Andersen, the inspector general and Webster’s panels. The recommendations are due Jan. 1.

Copyright © 2001, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.