Confidential Informant Audit Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

As some one who is always on the look out for material on how to better manage human sources (confidential informants) I came across this audit of some of the issues The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have had in managing confidential informants. 


For anyone involved in this business it is always good to read about what is and is not being done properly in other agencies. We should not be continuing to make the same mistakes. Take the time to read the full report and then check your own systems to ensure that you are not making the same mistakes.  Better do it now before you are audited or something else goes wrong and the lawyers come knocking at your door. 

Lets take a look at some of the recommendations here which I have paraphrased in more general terms. (My comments in italics)

  • Develop and implement a record-keeping system sufficient to maintain, in a single location, complete and reliable CI information.  - This is essential for every agency. All confidential informant records should be held in a central location.
  • Establish adequate procedures and controls within the system to ensure that all data is entered in a complete, consistent, and accurate manner, and that historical data is appropriately maintained.  Good training to manage informants and good supervision ensure good data entry.
  • Ensure that the system requires the capture and validation of additional confidential informant related information to assist in managing the confidential informant program. There has been be a way to capture any information to help the agency improve its capacity when it comes to managing informants
  • Implement a method to accurately and completely track all payment information for individual confidential informants. Money management is a serious concern in all CI programs. Good systems significantly reduce the risks to the officers and to the agency.

Managing confidential informants ( human sources ) is fraught with risk. Good systems reduce those risks.