Technology continues to play an increasingly prevalent role in daily life, and criminals and terrorists can use this trend to their advantage, posing an even bigger threat to civil liberty and national security. To combat this threat, former FBI Director Robert Mueller created the Science and Technology Branch (STB) and designated an executive assistant director to oversee and strategically deploy its world-renowned applied science and operational technology resources.
STB’s mission: Support the FBI mission by discovering, developing, and delivering innovative science and technology capabilities that enhance intelligence and investigative activities.
STB’s vision: Be the premier provider of applied science and technology capabilities that address the ever-evolving threat.
STB’s highly trained and specialized 6,200-employee workforce is made up of special agents, forensic scientists, engineers, intelligence analysts, and professional support personnel located at three Headquarters divisions and all field offices. They can be deployed worldwide at a moment’s notice. Our talented employees manage massive amounts of data, develop high-tech tools and techniques to solve crimes and prevent terrorist acts, and supply a broad array of scientific services and expertise to the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
Following are some examples of our capabilities in the areas of forensic science, information sharing, and operational technology.
The criminal justice world has been shaped by forensic science, advancing crime investigations and allowing for the development of new technologies and capabilities. The FBI’s scientists, lab technicians, engineers, and forensic examiners support the criminal justice system by performing these key functions:
- Biometrics analysis: Providing accurate, complete, and timely forensic analysis, including reporting, training, testimony, and technical support for latent print and DNA examinations.
- Scientific analysis: Providing accurate, complete, and timely forensic analysis, including reporting, training, testimony, and technical support for cryptanalysis, chemistry, firearms/toolmarks, questioned documents, and trace evidence examinations.
- Operational response: Identifying, documenting, and safely collecting, preserving, transporting, and exploiting evidence—which can include chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear materials—from crime scenes within the U.S. and abroad.
Working with industry and other agencies, FBI scientists and engineers help keep the nation safe by providing sophisticated tools and techniques used across all FBI investigative programs. Services include, but are not limited to:
- Digital forensics: Collecting and examining digital evidence gathered from computers, audio files, video recordings, images, and portable electronic devices.
- Electronic surveillance: Developing and deploying tools and techniques to perform lawfully authorized intercepts of wired and wireless telecommunications and data network communications.
- Physical surveillance: Using technology and capabilities to covertly surveil, track, or locate targets of interest in operational matters.
- Tactical operations: Deploying tools, systems, and equipment used in surreptitious entries and covert searches.
In addition, each FBI field office has technically-trained agents, electronics technicians, and Computer Analysis Response Teams that provide technological services to meet unique investigative needs.
Information is at the heart of every successfully-resolved case. Bringing together material from various sources puts superior data access, analysis, and law enforcement community connectivity into the hands of special agents and law enforcement worldwide.
A few of the many types of information sharing provided by STB include:
- Crime reporting: Collecting, publishing, and archiving reliable, uniform crime statistics using data from nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
- Biometrics: Expanding traditional law enforcement and intelligence community investigative tools such as fingerprint examination and DNA analysis to encompass new forms of identification—including palm prints as well as iris, voice, and facial patterns.
- Law Enforcement Online: Hosting a secure, web-based communications system, available through the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal, that is available 24/7 to more than 100,000 law enforcement, criminal justice, and anti-terrorism professionals, first responders, and intelligence agencies around the world.
- Criminal background checks: Coordinating a network of databases that include federal and state records for use by law enforcement during investigations and arrests.
- Name checks for firearm sales: Instantly determining whether prospective buyers are eligible to purchase guns or explosives.
The more than 6,200 highly-trained professionals of our Science and Technology Branch help protect the nation by putting the power of science and technology into the hands of law enforcement officers and intelligence professionals.