The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train, and Retain Intelligence Analysts

Audit Report 05-20
April 2005
Office of the Inspector General



The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) authorities for intelligence activities derive from legislation, executive order and a series of Director of Central Intelligence Directives (DCID).12 Executive Order 12333, issued in December 1981, authorizes the FBI within the United States to collect, produce, and disseminate foreign intelligence. The order states that United States Intelligence Community agencies such as the FBI are authorized to collect information on U.S. persons only in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the Attorney General. The National Security Act of 1947 includes the FBI in its authorization of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities by the intelligence community. Such activities include those designed to protect against international terrorist activities. These foreign intelligence and counterintelligence authorities supplement the FBI’s investigative authority.

Under the DCIDs that implement national foreign intelligence requirements, the FBI disseminates foreign intelligence acquired in the course of investigations conducted in accordance with FBI priorities and guidelines. Thus, when the FBI recruits sources in its investigations to protect the United States from terrorist attack, those sources may be queried on other foreign intelligence topics to meet national requirements.13

Prior Reviews Relating to FBI Intelligence Analysts

9/11 Commission

On November 27, 2002, the Congress and the President created the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) to investigate “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” including those relating to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In July 2004, the 9/11 Commission released its report entitled “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States”.

The 9/11 Commission’s report made a number of observations about the role of intelligence in the FBI and its intelligence capabilities. One of its primary observations concerned the potential the FBI’s 1998 strategic plan to reshape the way the FBI addressed terrorism cases. The FBI’s 1998 strategic plan shifted the FBI’s priorities and mandated a stronger intelligence collection effort. The plan also called for a new information technology system to aid in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence and other information.

The FBI’s strategic plan was based on the FBI’s creating a professional analytical corps. The 9/11 Commission found that if the FBI had fully implemented the 1998 strategic plan, it would have made “a major step toward addressing terrorism systematically, rather than as individual unrelated cases.”14 However, the Commission found that the plan was not successfully implemented and attributed that failure to several factors, three of which are discussed below.15

  • The FBI’s practice of hiring analysts from within the agency rather than recruiting individuals with the relevant educational background and expertise contributed to a lack of strategic analysis. In the 9/11 Commission’s field visits, its staff “encountered several situations in which poorly qualified administrative personnel were promoted to analyst positions, in part as a reward for performance in other positions.”

  • When the FBI hired or promoted people with appropriate analytical skills and experience, the lack of a long-term career path and a professional training program caused many capable individuals to leave the FBI or move internally to other positions.

  • When the FBI did hire qualified analysts, FBI managers often did not use them effectively. This was especially true in the field offices. Some field analysts interviewed by the 9/11 Commission said they were viewed as “über-secretaries,” expected to perform any duty that was deemed non-investigative, including data entry and answering phones, because FBI headquarters did not have sufficient staff support. As a result, analysts were often asked to perform duties that were not analytic in nature.


In September 2002, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report entitled, A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterterrorism Program: Threat Assessment, Strategic Planning, and Resource Management (Report 02-38). One of the fourteen recommendations we made to the FBI was that it establish a time goal and a process for building a corps of professional, trained, and experienced intelligence analysts.

In December 2003, the OIG issued an audit report entitled, The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Improve the Sharing of Intelligence and Other Information (Report 04-10). This audit focused on the FBI’s: 1) identification of impediments to the sharing of counterterrorism-related intelligence and other information; 2) improvement of its ability to share intelligence and other information both within the FBI and to the intelligence community and state and local law enforcement agencies; and 3) dissemination of useful threat and intelligence information to other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

In this review, the OIG found that the FBI had faced a number of impediments in its efforts to transform itself into a law enforcement agency with a robust intelligence capability to help prevent future terrorist attacks. One of the major impediments cited in the report was the FBI’s problems with being able to pull information together from a variety of sources, analyze the information, and disseminate it. Along with the FBI’s analytical weakness, the OIG also concluded that the FBI lacked the capability to prepare a strategic threat assessment or “big picture” intelligence estimate. The OIG found that the FBI had a number of reforms underway to improve its ability to share intelligence and other information.

Organization and Resources

The FBI’s Human Talent for Intelligence Production Concept of Operations (Human Talent CONOPS), released in September 2003, is the FBI’s roadmap for hiring and developing the FBI’s corps of intelligence analysts.

On January 30, 2003, the FBI Director authorized the position of Executive Assistant Director (EAD) for Intelligence, and established an Office of Intelligence to manage the FBI’s intelligence program.16 The EAD for Intelligence was created to manage a single intelligence program across the FBI's four operational divisions — counterterrorism, counterintelligence, criminal, and cyber. Previously, each division controlled and managed its own intelligence program. To emphasize its new priority to prevent terrorist attacks, the Director also elevated intelligence from program support to full program status through the Office of Intelligence.

The Office of Intelligence, managed by an Assistant Director who reports to the EAD for Intelligence, has six units: 1) Career Intelligence, which develops career paths for intelligence analysts; 2) Strategic Analysis, which provides strategic analyses to senior level FBI executives; 3) Oversight, which monitors field intelligence groups; 4) Intelligence Requirements and Collection Management, which establishes and implements procedures to manage the FBI intelligence process; 5) Administrative Support; and 6) Executive Support. The Office of Intelligence is responsible for implementing an integrated FBI-wide intelligence strategy, developing an intelligence analyst career path, and ensuring that intelligence is appropriately shared within the FBI as well as with other federal agencies. The Office of Intelligence also is responsible for improving strategic analysis, implementing an intelligence requirements and collection regime, and ensuring that the FBI's intelligence policies are implemented. The direct day-to-day management of the FBI’s analysts remains with the operating division or field office to which each analyst is assigned. The Office of Intelligence’s responsibilities for intelligence collection, analysis, dissemination, and program management are described in Appendix 4.

Until August 2003, the FBI had three types of analyst positions: operations specialist, all source analyst, and reports officer. Operations specialists provided direct support to special agents in their investigations. All source analysts gathered and evaluated information coming into the FBI through investigations or from other intelligence agencies. Reports officers identified and extracted essential information from FBI and other intelligence products, synthesized the information into reports, and disseminated them.

According to the FBI’s Human Talent CONOPS, these three positions were actually all functions of a single professional occupation encompassing analysis and intelligence. Consequently, August 2003 the FBI decided to merge the three positions into a single position of intelligence analyst while retaining the three distinct roles within that career field. One purpose of this consolidation of roles was to provide for much greater flexibility in assigning analysts, who could perform any of the three functions.

Recent Directives and Legislation

Presidential Memorandum Creating Intelligence Directorate

In a November 23, 2004, memorandum to the Attorney General, the President concurred with the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation to create an intelligence cadre at the FBI. To allow the special agents, analysts, linguists, and surveillance specialists in the new cadre to specialize in intelligence, he ordered the FBI to implement a separate career track for this new cadre. Organizationally, the cadre will be a part of a new Intelligence Directorate, also created by the memorandum. The new Directorate will be responsible for all of the FBI’s intelligence functions, including oversight of field intelligence operations, human source development and management, intelligence collection, information sharing, translation, strategic analysis, and program management.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005

On December 8, 2004, the President signed legislation entitled Making Appropriations for Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005). Two sections of the Act provide the FBI with additional flexibility to hire and retain highly skilled intelligence personnel. Section 115 amends Title 5 of the U.S. Code to allow the FBI, in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to pay up an Executive Schedule I salary for personnel in high level positions with skills critical to the FBI’s intelligence mission.17 Section 113 allows the FBI to pay retention bonuses, up to 50 percent of an employee’s base pay, to personnel with critical skills who are otherwise likely to leave the FBI. This section also allows the FBI to pay relocation bonuses, up to 50 percent of an employee’s base pay, to employees who are transferred to an area with a higher cost of living.

The conference report accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act also directed the FBI to establish a Directorate of Intelligence, headed by an EAD for Intelligence. The report directed the new directorate have:1) clear authority over the FBI’s intelligence functions, and 2) responsibility for both operational and programmatic elements of the FBI’s intelligence program. As part of the control over the programmatic elements, the report specifies that the Directorate of Intelligence will be responsible for recruiting and retaining the highest quality intelligence personnel. The conference report also directs the FBI to:

  • ensure that analysts and special agents have intelligence-related performance measures;

  • increase the number of basic and advanced classes offered by the College of Analytical Studies; and

  • expand the number of employees participating in the FBI’s Student Loan Repayment Program.

In addition, the report requires the FBI to structure its budget to reflect the status of intelligence as one of the following four primary missions of the FBI: 1) intelligence, 2) counterterrorism and counterintelligence, 3) criminal, and 4) criminal justice services.

The FBI is currently developing a strategy to implement the new authorities granted it in the Act.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

On December 17, 2004, the President signed into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Title II of this law makes significant changes to intelligence operations at the FBI, including establishing a National Intelligence Workforce and a Directorate of Intelligence, changing the FBI’s budget structure, and mandating personnel reforms for intelligence analysts.

To institutionalize intelligence in the FBI, the Act requires the FBI Director to create a specially recruited and trained corps of special agents, analysts, linguists, and surveillance personnel who will specialize in intelligence. The Act also requires the FBI to:

  • establish career paths for the FBI’s new intelligence specialists, including allowing specialists to work in their area of expertise throughout their careers;

  • recruit and train personnel with backgrounds in intelligence, international relations, language, technology and other skills relevant to the FBI’s intelligence mission; and

  • provide analysts training and career paths similar to analysts in other United States Intelligence Community agencies.

The Act requires the FBI to convert its Office of Intelligence into a Directorate of Intelligence, with the current Executive Assistant Director of Intelligence becoming the head of the new Directorate. The Directorate will be responsible for the FBI’s intelligence mission, including:

  • supervising its national intelligence programs and activities;

  • ensuring the FBI fulfills its intelligence responsibilities under the National Security Act of 1947;

  • overseeing intelligence operations in the FBI’s field offices;

  • managing the development of human sources of intelligence;

  • coordinating the FBI’s collection of intelligence, including ensuring that its collection efforts are in line with the rest of the United States Intelligence Community;

  • performing strategic analysis;

  • managing the FBI’s intelligence program and the program’s budget; and

  • overseeing the FBI’s intelligence workforce.

In addition, the law requires the FBI to structure its budget to reflect the status of intelligence as one of the following four primary missions of the FBI: 1) intelligence, 2) counterterrorism and counterintelligence, 3) criminal enterprises and federal crimes, and 4) criminal justice services.

The Act also exempts FBI intelligence analysts from the position classification and pay requirements of Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Under the new law, the FBI Director, in consultation with the OPM, has the authority to create intelligence analyst positions that do not meet all the requirements of Title 5. Similarly, the FBI Director may establish basic rates of pay for intelligence analyst positions without having to comply with Title 5.

The Title 5 exemptions will allow the FBI to create position classifications and pay structures similar to those already granted to other agencies in the United States Intelligence Community. The FBI intends to use the exemption from the position classification rules to create senior non-supervisory analytical positions similar to positions found in many other intelligence agencies. Similarly, the exemptions should allow the FBI to offer pay competitive with other intelligence agencies. Competitive position classification and pay should significantly aid the FBI in attracting and retaining qualified analysts, especially senior analysts and analysts with a high level of expertise in specialty areas. The FBI is currently developing a strategy to implement the Title 5 exemptions granted it in the Act.


  1. DCIDs are the principal means by which the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), as the head of the intelligence community, provides guidance, policy, and direction to the intelligence community pursuant to authorities of the DCI. DCIDs are normally coordinated through the Intelligence Community Deputies Committee and intelligence community working groups.

  2. The DCIDs applicable to the FBI’s management of foreign intelligence collection and production are discussed in greater detail in Appendix 2.

  3. In commenting on a draft of this report, the FBI told us that the Department of Justice rejected its budget requests for the additional personnel necessary to implement the plan.

  4. The remaining factors cited by the Commission are discussed in Appendix 3.

  5. The FBI hired the EAD for Intelligence in May 2003, and Congress approved the creation of EAD for Intelligence position in September 2003.

  6. Title 5 contains the statutes that govern position classification and grade levels for most of the federal workforce.

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