Follow-up Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train,
and Retain Intelligence Analysts

Audit Report 07-30
April 2007
Office of the Inspector General


In May 2005, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report that examined the hiring, allocation, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts.5 In this follow-up review, we examined the FBI’s progress in implementing the OIG’s recommendations from the May 2005 report, and we also examined the FBI’s continuing efforts to improve its hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts. We undertook these audits because the FBI’s intelligence analyst program is a critical component of the FBI’s efforts to transform itself into an agency with a strong intelligence capacity to help meet the FBI’s post-September 11 priority of preventing future terrorist attacks on the United States.

In performing this follow-up audit, we reviewed documents related to the budgeting, hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts. We also interviewed 60 intelligence analysts and 16 intelligence analyst supervisors in FBI Headquarters and in 4 field offices to gauge any changes since our survey of all FBI intelligence analysts in our prior audit. In addition, we interviewed FBI officials from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Administrative Services, Training and Development, and Finance Divisions.

Roles of FBI Intelligence Analysts

The FBI’s Intelligence Analysts generally perform three roles: all-source analysts, (2) operations specialists, and (3) reports officers. All-source analysts analyze threat information from multiple sources and place that information into context for use by operations specialists. Operations specialists assess the threat information in the context of ongoing investigations and intelligence requirements to evaluate the potential effect on national security. Reports officers act as information brokers by linking the information developed by the all-source analysts and operations specialists to address broader national security implications and intelligence requirements. Intelligence analysts perform their work at FBI Headquarters and in the FBI’s 56 field offices. Analysts are supervised by either supervisory analysts or by supervisory special agents.6

The overall work products of FBI intelligence analysts within the three roles include the collection and evaluation of available information and the preparation of briefings, reports, and communications for FBI personnel and other intelligence community and law enforcement entities. The FBI has three primary intelligence products: intelligence assessments, Intelligence Information Reports (IIR), and intelligence bulletins. Intelligence assessments may be either strategic or tactical. Strategic assessments support FBI-wide programs, plans, and strategies or provide information to policy-makers. Tactical assessments support FBI cases or operations, or cover specific threats. IIRs contain single-source intelligence that the FBI has not deeply evaluated. Intelligence bulletins are unclassified descriptions of significant developments or trends that are shared broadly within the law enforcement community.

The FBI’s Intelligence Organization

In January 2003, the Director of the FBI authorized the position of Executive Assistant Director (EAD) for Intelligence, and established an Office of Intelligence to manage the FBI’s intelligence program. 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. By creating the Office of Intelligence, the FBI elevated the status of its intelligence operations from a supporting role for investigations to full program status.

In September 2005, the FBI established a National Security Branch (NSB) under an EAD to oversee the national security operations of the Counterterrorism Division, Counterintelligence Division, a new Directorate of Intelligence replacing the Office of Intelligence, and a new Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate.7 The NSB is also responsible for the continued development of a specialized national security workforce, and the EAD is the lead FBI official responsible for coordination and liaison with the Director of National Intelligence and the intelligence community.8

In FY 2006, the Assistant Director, Directorate of Intelligence, initiated an assessment to clarify the Directorate’s mission and the roles of intelligence analysts and other staff. The Acting Deputy Assistant Director told the OIG that the assessment made it clear the field was frustrated about receiving conflicting guidance on intelligence matters from Headquarters entities and that the Directorate needed to ensure that policy, guidance, and processes were consistently developed, understood, and applied across all elements of the intelligence program.

The FBI’s Human Resources Management

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI has taken steps to improve its human capital planning in general and its intelligence program in particular. In September 2003, the FBI issued the Human Talent for Intelligence Production Concept of Operations Plan (CONOPS). This 2003 CONOPS outlines the strategies that the FBI is planning to implement in the areas of recruiting and hiring, the selection process, workforce development, and training and education for intelligence analysts. It also includes a proposal for integrating intelligence training into the new special agent curriculum. The plan outlines the goal for the FBI’s intelligence analyst cadre to foster a well-educated, highly trained, appropriately sized, and effective analytical work force. In 2004, the FBI issued the Threat Forecasting and Operational Requirements CONOPS. This plan includes a Human Talent Requirements Forecast to assess the characteristics of the human talent required to support the FBI intelligence program into the future. However, both of these CONOPs and the supporting plans within those CONOPs have not been fully implemented.

In August 2004, the FBI developed a Human Capital Plan to guide its efforts in recruitment and other areas of personnel management. In October 2005, the FBI appointed a Chief Human Resources Officer to oversee recruitment, performance management, talent development, succession planning, compensation, benefits, and awards for the FBI.

According to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework, an agency should have an explicit workforce planning strategy that is linked to the agency's strategic and program planning efforts. In addition, the workforce planning strategy should identify the agency’s current and future human capital needs, including the size of the workforce, its deployment across the organization, and the competencies needed for the agency to fulfill its mission. OPM states that, to demonstrate that the size and allocation of the workforce is based on mission needs, an agency needs to complete a number of planning steps, including the following:

Once an organization identifies its workforce gaps, it needs to develop a strategy to fill the gaps. The strategy should be tailored to address gaps in the number, deployment, and alignment of human capital. The correct number, deployment, and alignment of human capital should allow an agency to sustain the contribution of its critical skills and competencies. OPM suggests that each agency publish a strategic workforce plan that includes mission-critical positions, current needs, projected business growth, future needs by competency and number, and a basic plan to close the gaps identified. Such a human capital planning effort would require the FBI to assess the number and location of intelligence analysts to meet the FBI mission, including its highest priority of preventing future terrorist attacks.

Funded Staffing Level

Prior to FY 2005, the FBI was unable to determine the number of intelligence analyst vacancies or the distribution of those vacancies across FBI units because it had not established a funded staffing level (FSL) for analysts. An FSL is the number of positions available in a given year based on that year’s appropriation. However, in FY 2004 the FBI began establishing an FSL for analysts and has since established FSLs annually for both FYs 2006 and 2007 for intelligence analysts by division, field office, and other entities. The FSL is based on the budgeted number of intelligence analyst positions. Also beginning in FY 2005, the FBI tracked the number of intelligence analysts on board compared to the FSL.


Prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI did not offer formal classroom training to intelligence analysts. At that time, the FBI had fewer than 200 intelligence analysts and any formal training analysts received was provided outside the FBI.

After the September 11 attacks, the FBI Director assigned the Training and Development Division to immediately coordinate, develop, and implement a professional training program for the FBI’s analysts. In October 2001, the FBI established the College of Analytical Studies (CAS) at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, with the following mission:

The first course for analysts established at the CAS was a 5-week Basic Intelligence Analyst (BIA) training held in FY 2002.9 As a result of students’ negative feedback and poor attendance, a new 7-week introductory level course for intelligence analysts, called Analytical Cadre Educational Strategy 1 (ACES-1), replaced the BIA in September 2004.

In 2004, the former Office of Intelligence also developed seven core elements for FBI intelligence training, and the ACES-1 class is based on these 7 elements: (1) FBI intelligence mandates and authorities, (2) the intelligence cycle, (3) the United States Intelligence Community, (4) intelligence reporting and dissemination, (5) FBI intelligence requirements and the collection management process, (6) the role of the intelligence analyst, and (7) validating human sources. In addition to applying the generally accepted core elements in developing the curriculum, the FBI contractor that developed ACES-1 consulted with other federal agencies, companies that provide training to intelligence analysts elsewhere, experienced FBI intelligence analysts and academic institutions with intelligence programs.

In November 2004, the FBI added ACES 1.5 to the list of CAS courses. ACES 1.5 is intended to train intelligence analysts who had already been with the FBI prior to the establishment of the analyst training curriculum. This training was created to reinforce the working knowledge of the existing analysts. The ACES-1.5 curriculum included Analytic Tools and Techniques, Classified Materials, an overview of the Directorate of Intelligence, Criminal Discovery, Title III, Grand Jury Information, Privacy Act and Classified Information Procedures Act, Effective Writing of Intelligence Information Reports, the FBI Field Office Intelligence Program, Requirements and Collections Management, and an overview of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In FY 2006 the FBI reconfigured the two ACES courses into a 9-week merged course and renamed it Cohort. Cohort will completely replace the ACES courses when analysts who joined the FBI prior to 2005 complete ACES. The first 5 weeks of Cohort is designed for new intelligence analysts, language analysts, and other intelligence professionals who comprise the FBI’s Intelligence Career Service. Immediately following the 5-week program, analysts receive an additional 4 weeks of specialized intelligence training covering systems and tools used by intelligence analysts.

Prior Reports on FBI Intelligence Analysts

Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

In May 2005, the OIG issued an audit report entitled The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train, and Retain Intelligence Analysts (Audit Report 05-20), which examined the FBI’s efforts to expand and improve its intelligence analyst corps. The OIG audit concluded that the FBI had made progress in hiring well-qualified intelligence analysts by streamlining its hiring process and budgeting the number of positions available. However, the OIG audit also found:

In its May 2005 report, the OIG made 15 recommendations to help the FBI improve its efforts to hire, train, and retain intelligence analysts. These include recommending that the FBI:

Government Accountability Office

In June 2004, officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) presented congressional testimony entitled, The FBI Transformation: Human Capital Strategies May Assist the FBI in Its Commitment to Address Its Top Priorities, GAO-04-817T. In the testimony, the GAO stated that the FBI had made significant progress in its transformation efforts. The GAO found that the FBI’s organizational changes to enhance its intelligence capability, including its realignment of staff resources to the counterterrorism and counterintelligence priority areas, among other things, was encouraging.

The GAO noted that the FBI had faced difficulties retaining staff and competing with other government agencies and the private sector for staff with intelligence knowledge, skills, and abilities. These difficulties may have resulted in part from the fact that the FBI’s career ladder for intelligence analysts at the time was truncated compared with similar career ladders at other federal agencies. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency maintained a career ladder for their intelligence staff that included both senior executive (managerial) and senior level (non-managerial) positions.10 While the FBI was moving toward establishing a GS-15 career path for intelligence staff at the time of the hearing, the GAO concluded that this would still not create a level playing field with the rest of the intelligence community given that other agencies maintained higher level positions. The GAO went on to say that should a decision be made to institute senior executive and senior level positions, the FBI would still need to develop and implement a carefully crafted plan that included specific details on how such an intelligence career service would relate into its strategic plan and strategic human capital plan, the expectations and qualifications for positions, and how performance would be measured.

9/11 Commission

The final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) made several observations about the role of intelligence in the FBI as well as its intelligence capabilities. One of the report’s primary observations concerned the FBI’s strategic plan to reshape the way the FBI addressed terrorism cases, which 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, in part, on the FBI 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.” However, the Commission found that the plan was not successfully implemented and attributed that failure to several factors, including the following.11

  1. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train, and Retain Intelligence Analysts, Audit Report Number 05-20, May 2005.

  2. When we use the term “analyst” in this report, we are referring to intelligence analysts. The FBI also has other types of analysts such as financial analysts.

  3. Details of the mission and organization of the Directorate of Intelligence are displayed in Appendix 2 and 3. Further details of the mission and organization of the NSB are contained in Appendix 4, and a list of the intelligence community members is contained in Appendix 5.

  4. The Director of National Intelligence is the head of the U.S. Intelligence Community and the principal advisor to the President, National Security Council, and Homeland Security Council on intelligence matters.

  5. The CAS also offers specialty courses in a variety of subjects, including analytical methods, denial and deception, Lexis/Nexis, money laundering, and statement analysis. The CAS collaborates with other intelligence community training institutions so that FBI analysts can obtain additional specialized training.

  6. Since this testimony, the FBI has been exempted from Title 5, which prevented it from placing analysts at the GS-15 and Senior Executive Service pay levels. Title 5 contains the personnel statutes that govern most of the federal workforce, including position classification and grading.

  7. In commenting on a draft of our May 2005 report, the FBI stated that the Department of Justice rejected its budget requests for the additional personnel necessary to implement the plan.

« Previous Table of Contents Next »