WASHINGTON – A new Justice Department audit shows that for nearly three years the FBI gave outdated, incomplete and erroneous data about terror suspects to be added to the government's watchlist.
The audit by the department's inspector general gives the FBI good marks for attempts to improve its process of nominating names and submitting other information to be included in the terrorist watchlist that is maintained by U.S. intelligence agencies, although it criticized FBI and the Justice Department overall for not handling the information better.
The audit was released Monday. It found that the FBI has proper controls in place to help make sure names of suspected terrorists were accurately added to the list. But it also concluded that the bureau didn't always pass along newly discovered information about people on the watchlist, or remove those who were no longer deemed a threat.
FBI Assistant Director John Miller said the FBI has begun changing the way it submits names of international and domestic terror suspects to make the nomination process easier and more efficient for agents. He said many of the problems identified in Fine's review should be fixed within six months.
"We will always strive for continued improvement in the conduct of FBI task force coordination and watchlisting process," Miller said. "We remain committed to working with the Department of Justice to increase coordination and to find best practices aimed at providing service and safety for our nation."
A summary of the report provided to FOX News reads: "The FBI is the only DOJ component that formally nominates known or suspected terrorists for inclusion on the consolidated terrorist watchlist. Between January 1, 2005 and November 29, 2007, the FBI processed over 8,00 watchlist nominations.
"The OIG audit found that FBI had developed a formal policy for nominating known or suspected terrorists to the watchlist, had sound record management procedures for its standard watchlist nominations, and had provided basic training on the watchlist nomination process to its staff."
The OIG report found FBI officials had developed quality control criteria, but did not always adhere to those policies.
The audit "found that FBI case agents did not always update watchlist records when new information became known and that they FBI did not always remove watchlist records when it was appropriate to do so.
"Moreover, watchlist nomination submissions from field offices were often incomplete or contained inaccuracies, causing delays in the processing of nominations."
"Additionally, FBI field offices at times bypassed FBI headquarters and the internal controls in the FBI process by submitting nominations directly to National Conterterrorism Center," which the summary stated could affect the accuracy of data supporting the watchlist nominations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.