FBI Strategy

FBI Headquarters Building at Night

Managing an organization as large and complex as the FBI—and transforming it into the intelligence-driven, threat-focused enterprise needed for the 21st century—requires a definitive idea of where we are and where we hope to go. That’s where our strategy comes in. The FBI strategy enables Bureau leaders and managers to define and pursue objectives crucial to mission success, prioritize resources to achieve those objectives, track progress along the way, address gaps when identified, and, most important, deliver consistent results.

Overview 

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Director Robert Mueller published a new set of FBI priorities, which indicated counterterrorism as the Bureau’s top priority. Recognizing that a list alone was not sufficient to drive long-term organizational change, Director Mueller led the implementation of the Strategy Management System (SMS), an adapted version of the Balance Scorecard methodology as a tool to measure and track strategic performance. SMS provided us with a framework for reorienting the Bureau towards an intelligence-driven, national security organization in 2006.

This process provides a formal method for defining, communicating, aligning, executing, and assessing strategy, and for making strategy a part of daily activities and decision-making. Our process ensures that entities throughout the Bureau align their activities to the FBI strategy and integrate strategy into program management. The FBI strategy provides an execution framework. Objective performance at the enterprise and division levels are measured, tracked, and reviewed on a quarterly basis.

The Bureau’s leadership team uses quarterly strategy review meetings on objectives, measures, and initiatives. During these meetings, the leadership team discusses performance and makes decisions on how to allocate resources in order to improve organizational execution.

In 2016, Director Comey unveiled a number of changes to the way in which the FBI managed its long-term strategy. His updated process emphasized “where are we going” (strategic) over “what are we doing” (tactical). Reflecting the Director’s themes—leadership, cyber, intelligence, and operations integration, and reduce administration workload— our updated strategy is more simplified and streamlined. The FBI has not changed the direction we are heading or the nature of our work. We do, however, want to ensure that our strategy:

  • Is simple and accurately reflects the organization’s top priorities
  • Ensures horizontal and vertical alignment across the Bureau
  • Ensures that our executives have a clear role and are held accountable for executing the strategy

FBI Mission and Vision

At the heart of the FBI strategy is our mission statement: a description of who we are and what we do. The statement reflects both the core of our diverse responsibilities and the FBI’s rigorous obedience to the rule of law, which governs all of our actions.

“The mission of the FBI is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.”

Our vision statement captures the essence of what defines success for the FBI. It describes where we want our organization to go.

“Ahead of the threat through leadership, agility, and integration.”

FBI Strategy

The FBI’s strategy creates the means by which we will achieve our mission and vision. This process holds individual divisions accountable for their progress while ensuring that the enterprise collectively moves forward.

The FBI’s strategy is aligned horizontally for maximum effect. All divisions utilize a cascading process, overseen by our executive assistant directors, which tie their actions back to our unified strategy with tangible objectives.

The three tools and visuals used to communicate the FBI’s strategy include:

  • The Strategy Snapshot, which provides a holistic visualization of how our vision, mission, strategic objectives, and core values all relate to each other.
  • The Strategy Pillars, which show the areas we need to focus on to accomplish our vision over the next three to five years.
  • The Strategy Card, which measures progress and informs FBI leadership on efforts made toward meeting objectives.

The FBI strategy works in concert with the National Security Strategy, the Department of Justice Strategic Plan, and the Director of National Intelligence’s National Intelligence Strategy. It is also revalidated to ensure it reflects the FBI Director’s strategic imperatives and initiatives.

FBI Strategy Snapshot 

The FBI Strategy Snapshot is a visualization tool that succinctly communicates the various elements of our strategy. Specifically, it describes how strategy is incorporated into our mission, vision, and core values. 

Vision: The vision is what we would like the FBI to become. As we build momentum around our strategic objectives, we will better accomplish our mission and, over time, move closer to accomplishing our vision.

Mission: Our mission encompasses all that we do as an organization — protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States. The mission priorities tell us how we are prioritizing our responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.

Strategic Objectives: The strategic objectives are the areas where we need to focus over the next three to five years in order to move the FBI forward. As we get closer to accomplishing our strategic objectives, we will better accomplish the mission and move closer to accomplishing the FBI’s vision.

Core Values: The core values are the foundation of our organization and should be incorporated into everything we do: respect, fairness, compassion, accountability, integrity, leadership, rigorous obedience to the Constitution, and diversity.

FBI Strategy Pillars 

The FBI Strategy Pillars serve as the visualization component of the overall FBI strategy. These pillars show the FBI’s 11 strategic objectives organized thematically into four categories.

The First Pillar Focuses on Capability

  • Focus on Leadership in Every Aspect of the FBI: The FBI will invest in its future by ensuring the right leader is selected for each role, providing opportunities for leaders to develop, and improving performance management and developmental feedback provided to leaders. As a result, the FBI will be viewed as a world-class leadership institution.
  • Incorporate Intelligence in All We Do: The FBI will use intelligence to support all decision making. The FBI will continue to improve its intelligence collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination efforts and will foster a team environment where all personnel work in concert to address threats.
  • Enhance Cyber Capabilities: As the lead domestic law enforcement and national security agency, the FBI will investigate and mitigate cyber crimes and threats by proactively leveraging innovative techniques and tools, making full and effective use of legal authorities, and developing the FBI workforce.
  • Improve Organizational Agility: The FBI will promote an agile culture that manages risk effectively. We will identify gaps and redundancies in policies and processes and reengineer where appropriate.
  • Strengthen Partnerships: The FBI will strengthen relationships and increase collaboration with federal, state, local, and tribal partners; the private sector; academia; and its international counterparts.

The Second Pillar Focuses on Technology

  • Improve Information Technology: The FBI will improve its Information Technology (IT) management, infrastructure, networks, applications, and services to foster a more collaborative environment and to improve performance capabilities.
  • Deploy Innovative Solutions: To be more agile within a constantly changing technology landscape, the FBI will more rapidly assess scientific and technological innovations and their impact on the Bureau, as well as when, where, and how solutions should be deployed.

The Third Pillar Focuses on Talent

  • Promote a Culture of Accountability and Transparency: The FBI will foster a culture of ethics and excellence at all levels of the organization by adhering to our core values and having honest and open communication.
  • Transform Recruitment and Hiring: The FBI will transform its recruiting and hiring processes to make recruiting everyone’s job and to focus on diversity, skill gaps, and leadership.
  • Improve Workforce Development: The FBI will provide high-quality career development and enrichment opportunities to advance skill sets, provide more career growth opportunities, and better retain talent.
The FBI Strategy Pillars serve as the visualization component of the overall FBI strategy.

The Fourth Pillar Focuses on Stewardship

Improve Stewardship of Resources: The FBI will uphold the trust of the American people by being good stewards of the finances, personnel, and infrastructure entrusted to the organization.

External Resources  

National Security Strategy (pdf)
Department of Justice Strategic Plan
National Intelligence Strategy (pdf)