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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Fact Sheet

Field Division: 

For Immediate Release

Sunday, February 1, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Division

U.S. Bomb Data Center

The U.S. Bomb Data Center (USBDC) serves as the national repository for explosives- and arson-related incident data, having been established by the federal explosives laws and Attorney General designation. Its purpose is to collect data and to provide those federal, state and local agencies having jurisdiction with information and intelligence to assist in the investigation of bombings, arson, and the criminal misuse of explosives.

The mission of the USBDC is to collect, analyze and disseminate information and intelligence products in order to assist U.S. federal agents, investigators from state, local, tribal and military departments, and international partners in preventing violent crime. These products include statistical and technical information, as well as analysis on current and future trends in connection with the criminal use of explosives and arson.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been collecting, storing and analyzing records on explosives and arson incidents since 1976. ATF, through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, was mandated by Congress pursuant to Public Law 104-208, the 1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, to establish a national repository for incidents involving arson and the criminal misuse of explosives. This authority was later transferred with ATF to the Attorney General of the United States with the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (ref: 28 CFR 0.131(e), implementing 18 USC 846(b)).

In 2004, the Attorney General mandated that all of the Department of Justice’s arson and explosives incident databases be consolidated into a single database which is known as the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS). This mandate was reinforced in 2010 by the Deputy Attorney General's Office. (ref: Attorney General's Aug. 11, 2004, Memorandum Regarding the Coordination of Explosives Investigations and Related Matters; and Deputy Attorney General’s Aug. 3, 2010, Protocol for Assigning Lead Agency Jurisdiction in Explosives Investigations.)

BATS contains information on more than 300,000 explosives- and arson-related incidents investigated by ATF and other law enforcement and public safety agencies.

ATF developed BATS to provide agencies with a system to report explosives- and arson-related incidents in a national database. BATS provides users with an optional case management system at no cost, and that technology helps to simplify and standardize the reporting of investigative information and track related administrative tasks. BATS’s users can build their investigations in BATS and collaborate with other agencies, while doing so in a secure environment. Bomb technicians and fire investigators can use BATS to perform trend analysis and compare incidents for similarities in motives, device construction, suspects and crime methodologies for possible investigative leads. Images of post-blast scenes, improvised explosive devices (IED’s), and crime scenes can be shared through the BATS secure Web connection.

The USBDC also collects, monitors, and disseminates information in connection with the theft and loss of explosive materials in coordination with U.S. law enforcement agencies nationally. That responsibility is based on federal law, which requires that any person who has knowledge of the theft or loss of any explosive materials from their stock must report the theft/loss within 24 hours of discovery to ATF and local authorities. The USBDC collects, monitors, and maintains information about the theft and loss of explosives materials and disseminates security alerts to U.S. law enforcement partners.

Additionally, the USBDC maintains the National Explosives Tracing Center (NETC), a function that is responsible for the identification and tracing of domestic and foreign commercial explosives, military explosives and ordnance, and other munitions. Through its strong partnerships with the Department of Defense USBDC can trace recovered explosives to their point of origin, including movement in interstate and international commerce for the purpose of aiding law enforcement officials in identifying criminal suspects, establishing stolen status, and proving ownership. (ref: 27 CFR § 555, implementing Title 18, USC, Chapter 40.)

In addition, the USBDC serves as a board member for the International Bomb Data Center Working Group (IBDCWG) and the co-representative for the Americas.

For more information on the USBDC or other ATF programs, go to www.atf.gov.

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Field Division: Headquarters