Congress is planning to raise FBI funding, despite disputes over the agency’s use of increased funding since 9/11 and the bureau’s overall ability to perform.

The senate version of a government-wide spending bill, which was passed last month, proposed cutting the FBI’s budget in 2003 by at least $206 million. A report accompanying the measure called for a “total re-creation” of the bureau, urged the agency to bring more non-agents into top management, and suggested that elite units such as the hostage rescue team might no longer be useful.

The report was also critical of the FBI’s Trilogy computer project. “The attempt to make up 20 years of neglect in two years of frenzied spending was destined to fail,” it declared, adding that in addition to a $137 million cost overrun for Trilogy, the bureau had “squandered” $100 million for the technology that Congress provided in a supplemental spending bill last year.

The White House recently announced its 2004 budget proposal, which includes an increase of nearly 10 percent for the FBI, to $4.6 billion. The extra money would pay for more than 1,900 new positions at the bureau, including analysts and surveillance officers and agents devoted to counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

The battle on Capitol Hill over the FBI’s future is far from over.

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