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DOJ OIG Releases Public Summary of a Classified Report on the FBI’s Response to Unresolved Results in Polygraph Examinations

Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today that a classified report examining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) handling of polygraph results in applicant and employee examinations has been submitted to Congress, DOJ leadership, and the FBI. The report focuses on the FBI’s process for investigating and addressing “unresolved results,” or results that found alleged deception or use of countermeasures by the applicant or employee.

As described in a public, unclassified summary of the report’s findings that was released today, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the FBI’s process for responding to unresolved employee polygraph results may lead to security and operational vulnerabilities. Our specific findings include:

  • Investigations and adjudications of unresolved results in employee polygraph examinations were often lengthy, taking an average of 357 days.
  • The FBI allowed certain employees who were unable to pass multiple polygraph examinations to retain access to highly sensitive information. As a result, some employees were allowed to retain access to sensitive information, systems, and spaces for extended periods of time without the risk assessments that FBI policy requires — potentially posing a security risk.
  • FBI personnel conducting investigations in response to unresolved employee polygraph examinations did not always share information regarding alleged employee conduct with the FBI office responsible for investigating employee misconduct or with the OIG. We issued a Management Advisory Memorandum to the FBI in September 2017 to alert the FBI of this concern.
  • The FBI did not fully document or centralize its recordkeeping of polygraph case information, including, at times, information explaining the test results. 
  • In a sample of 12 applicant cases, we found that the FBI did follow its policy of not offering employment to applicants whose initial polygraph or retest examination results were unresolved.

Today’s classified report made 8 recommendations to assist the FBI in improving its processes for responding to unresolved polygraph results. The FBI agreed with all of the recommendations.

Public Summary: The unclassified summary of the report can be found at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2018/e1802.pdf.

Video: To accompany today’s unclassified summary, the OIG has released a 2-minute video of the Inspector General discussing the report’s findings. The video and a downloadable transcript are available at the following link: https://oig.justice.gov/multimedia/.

September 2017 Management Advisory Memorandum: The OIG’s September 2017 memorandum to the FBI concerning referrals of alleged misconduct to the FBI Inspection Division and the OIG is available here.

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