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for 68 percent of the entries in the database; 36 percent of the agencies had entered fewer than 1,000 records, and 4 had entered fewer than 100 total records. Of the top 20 source agencies of entered exhibits, 7 were nonpartner agencies that—not having an IBIS installation of their own—submitted their evidence to another agency for acquisition.
Second, certain agencies that received IBIS technology did not have or allocate adequate resources to properly run the systems. As a result, many partner agencies reported significant backlogs of firearms evidence that had not been entered into NIBIN. For example, at the time of the DOJ inquiry, the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department reported more than 1,000 recovered bullets and cartridge casings, and 269 test-fired bullets, cartridge casings, and guns were waiting to be entered into NIBIN.
Third, some agencies did not regularly review “high confidence” candidate matches identified by IBIS to determine whether a true ballistics match existed. For instance, at the time of the audit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had not examined any potential matches since January 2002 and had some 3,350 high-confidence candidates that had not been reviewed.
The audit also found that NIBIN’s nationwide search capability is used extremely rarely, and that even regional searches were infrequent. Survey and site visit comments range from well-defined preferences for regional searches (e.g., one California laboratory that routinely performs checks against other California partitions) to indications that regional or national searches are not performed because the agency does not have a firearms examiner (it is not specified what that agency does with its local area searches). Several participating agencies indicated that they did not routinely perform regional or national searches due to the predominantly local nature of gun crime, though several indicated that they would conduct broader searches if conditions warranted or case agents specifically requested them. However, the survey of agencies also suggested a more fundamental reason for the lack of regional or national searches: more than one agency flatly indicated that they could not perform such cases because they do not know how to initiate them. (Excerpts from survey responses are reported in Appendixes XII–XIV of U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, 2005.)
As of May 2006, the national database has grown to 926,000 imaged items and over 12,500 hits have been logged. Generally, growth in acquisitions has occurred as new sites have come on line rather than from expanded use of the system in existing sites (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, 2005). It is clear that resource problems in the partner sites make a significant contribution to the overall low hit rates in the partner sites, although a handful of sites have very respectable hit rates using NIBIN. Some of these problems may be caused by the relatively