Follow-up Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Efforts to Hire, Train,
and Retain Intelligence Analysts
Audit Report 07-30
Office of the Inspector General
Hiring, Training, Utilizing, and Retaining Intelligence Analysts
This follow-up review found that the FBI has made progress in improving the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts, although in some areas the progress has been slow and uneven. For example, the FBI has improved its utilization of intelligence analysts, and most analysts we interviewed expressed positive job satisfaction. The FBI has also kept the attrition of analysts at a reasonable level and has begun conducting exit surveys that should provide data to help the FBI further improve the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of its intelligence analysts. In addition, the FBI continues to augment the size of its intelligence analyst workforce by hiring qualified candidates.
However, the FBI ended FY 2006 with 2,174 intelligence analysts, a shortfall of 400 based on its hiring goal. Further, the FBI has not fully implemented recommendations from our prior report to (1) base the hiring and allocation of analysts on threat and risk and (2) determine the number of intelligence analysts needed to achieve the FBI’s mission. The hiring process has also been lengthening, with the process taking an average of 217 days in FY 2006 compared to 132 days in FY 2004. The FBI continues to struggle with developing a satisfactory training program for new analysts, with a lack of hands-on training in the skills needed for analysts to perform their work assignments. Also, we found a professional divide between special agents and analysts in which some special agents seem to misunderstand or undervalue the role of intelligence analysts or fail to treat them as professional equals. Lastly, although most analysts said they plan to stay with the FBI as intelligence analysts for at least 5 years, enough analysts plan to leave, especially at the Headquarters level, to warrant increased attention to developing retention strategies.
Hiring and Allocation
In our May 2005 report, we recommended that the FBI use threat- and risk-based criteria to determine the number of analysts needed to meet is mission and to allocate analysts to where they are most needed. Further, we recommended that the FBI establish hiring goals for intelligence analysts based on: (1) the forecasted need for intelligence analysts; (2) projected attrition in the analyst corps; and (3) the FBI’s ability to hire, train, and utilize intelligence analysts.
As discussed in our prior report, instead of establishing formal hiring goals based on threat and risk factors, the FBI uses the number of intelligence analyst positions in its budget appropriation as a hiring goal, which is based on the FSL. In other words, the budget drives the number of hires. A unit chief told the OIG that he believes the numbers of additional appropriated positions are valid hiring goals because the budget process is how government organizations express their resource needs. While we agree with this general proposition, we also believe the budget request should be based on a sound assessment of the number of analysts needed to meet the FBI’s mission using threat- and risk-based criteria.
Although the FBI missed its FY 2006 hiring goal by 400 intelligence analysts, it decreased its vacancy rate since our prior report. Between September 2004 and September 30, 2006, the FBI hired 54 percent more analysts, increasing on-board strength to 2,174 from 1,413. The shortfall of 400 analysts, resulting in a 16-percent vacancy rate, represents a significant improvement over the 32-percent vacancy rate in FY 2004. The following table shows the number of hires since FY 2001.
Number of Intelligence Analysts Hired and On-board
from FY 2001 through FY 2007a
(as of end of FY)
|Source: OIG based on FBI data|
The FBI’s strides in filling intelligence analyst positions was aided by several initiatives, beginning with a hiring “blitz” in early 2005. According to an FBI official, this recruitment initiative attracted over 11,000 applicants, of whom over 300 were interviewed. In addition, in March 2005, the FBI replaced its decentralized hiring process with a nationwide recruitment strategy that allows it to consider and process a greater number of candidates to meet the aggressive hiring goals established since 2004. In addition, the nationwide strategy enabled all candidates to apply to the same job posting rather than to separate postings for each location’s vacancies.
A more recent hiring initiative in July 2006 sought intelligence analyst candidates for FBI Headquarters positions. According to an FBI official, Headquarters has more openings for analysts than field offices. Headquarters divisions identified the specific skill sets desired for new hires, and the hiring initiative sought experienced applicants to fill General Schedule (GS) 12 through 14 positions. Headquarters divisions then reviewed the applications received and decided which applicants to interview. The FBI received about 4,100 applications for the Headquarters positions, interviewed about 350 applicants, and selected 100 candidates.
Lengthening Processing Time
The average time required for the FBI to hire intelligence analysts from the closure of the job announcement to entry on duty (EOD) has increased from about 19 weeks in FY 2004 to about 31 weeks in FY 2006. This increased hiring time, according to several FBI managers, might cause some candidates to lose patience and accept employment elsewhere.
Once a candidate receives a tentative offer of employment, an extensive background investigation process ensues and this portion of the hiring process accounts for most of the processing time. According to FBI officials, the primary reason for the delay is the number of candidates that need background investigations at any given time.
Due to the nature of the work performed by the FBI, all employees must qualify for a top-secret security clearance before they can begin service. After applicants for an intelligence analyst position receive a conditional offer of employment, they are placed in “background” status. While in a background status, applicants are investigated to determine whether they are suitable for FBI employment.12 The FBI’s investigation includes a drug test, a polygraph, and an extensive check into the applicant’s credit history, drug use, personality, and any legal violations.
From FY 2004 to FY 2006, the average time it took from the closure of the job announcement to the EOD date for intelligence analysts increased from approximately 132 to 217 days, or 85 days, as shown in the table below. Although we requested information on the reasons for this increase in hiring time, the Administrative Services Division unit chief did not provide an explanation.
Average Number of Days from Closure of Job
Announcement to Enter-On-Duty Date
|Time Period||Average Number
|Source: OIG based on FBI data|
Note (a): FY 2006 data is through August 29, 2006.
Quality of New Intelligence Analysts
During our fieldwork for the current audit, we interviewed 60 intelligence analysts and their supervisors regarding the FBI’s hiring practices. Many supervisory intelligence analysts told us that the quality of newly hired intelligence analysts has improved, and that they are qualified in general, think creatively, and are more educated than in the past. For example, we found that at least 34 percent of analysts hired in the last 2 years hold advanced degrees. However, because the FBI told us it did not collect complete data on advanced degrees for this period, we could not compare it to the 56 percent of analysts with advanced degrees hired from FYs 2002 to 2004.13
Allocation of Analysts
We found that the FBI does not use threat or risk assessments to allocate all of the hired analysts throughout the FBI. Once hired, analysts are assigned to various Headquarters divisions or offices or to field offices. The FBI’s methodology for allocating these new analysts varies. In Headquarters, the allocation of new intelligence analysts is based on filling any vacancies stemming from the historical budget-driven allocation of positions, modified by managers’ expressed needs and requests for additional positions. The FBI fills field office vacancies similarly. However, additional positions allowed by the budget – known as enhancements – are now allocated based on a threat and risk assessment. In its FY 2006 budget, the FBI received an enhancement of 260 intelligence analyst positions. The FBI first filled 51 requested positions at FBI Headquarters and overseas legal attachés. The FBI then allocated the remaining 209 positions to field offices using threat and risk criteria.14
We believe that using threat and risk criteria for the field office enhancements is a step in the right direction. However, the recommendation in our prior report was more comprehensive and recommended developing and implementing a threat- or risk-based methodology for allocating intelligence analyst positions across both FBI Headquarters divisions and field offices.
Furthermore, in response to our prior recommendation to develop and implement a threat- and risk-based methodology for determining the number of analysts required, the FBI stated that forecasting the need for intelligence analysts is part of a long-term goal that it is working toward. However, FBI officials said that because of the complexity of such a model and the need for baseline data over a span of several years, development of such a model is likely 3 to 5 years away from completion. As stated in our prior report, we do not believe that the methodology for determining the number of intelligence analysts needs to involve complex formulas. However, the methodology does need to be supported by data and be consistent with the FBI’s strategic mission.
The overall allocation of the FBI’s intelligence analysts between Headquarters and the field offices has not changed significantly since our previous audit report. About half of all analysts are assigned to field offices and half to Headquarters units. The distribution of analysts among the field offices has changed somewhat, as has the total number of analysts on board. For example, each of the FBI’s five largest field offices – Los Angeles, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC – had 40 or more intelligence analysts during the period of this review compared to 25 in June 2004. The table below compares the overall number and allocation of analysts in FY 2004 to FY 2006.
Allocation of FBI Intelligence Analysts
April 2006 and June 2004
|Number of Intelligence Analysts||Percent of Total Intelligence
|HQ operational divisions||899||523||42||42|
|Other FBI entities||177||112||8||9|
|Source: OIG based on FBI data|
Note (a): The total does not equal 100 percent due to rounding.
In 2005, we reported that the former EAD for Intelligence had expressed concern that there were too few seasoned intelligence analysts working in FBI field offices. The current Acting Deputy Assistant Director of the Directorate of Intelligence recently stated that FBI Headquarters has as many intelligence analysts as the field offices because it provides national case management, while the field is responsible for local intelligence efforts. He stated that Headquarters puts together the individual pieces of intelligence from the field and is the office of origin for many major cases. Another FBI Headquarters official stated that intelligence analysts are used as case analysts in field offices, but not a lot of intelligence is generated by cases. According to this official, since the majority of strategic intelligence analysis (analysis outside of cases) is performed at FBI Headquarters, the FBI needs a significant number of intelligence analysts at its Headquarters to conduct strategic intelligence analysis.
Consistent with the recommendation in our prior report, we believe the allocation of intelligence analysts needs to be part of an overall human capital planning process in which the number and location of analysts are formally assessed based on factors such as threat, risk, and workload. Further, because there has been no such assessment, the FBI cannot be certain whether there are too few or too many analysts in FBI field offices, or whether the distribution of analysts among the field offices is appropriate.
In terms of the distribution of analysts by pay grade, we noted in our prior report that analysts in field offices tended to be lower-graded. This follow-up review found a greater balance between the field offices and Headquarters divisions with respect to pay grades of intelligence analysts. The following table shows the change in the distribution of GS grades, by location, from FY 2004 to FY 2006.
Change in GS Level of Intelligence Analysts by Organizational Unit,
FYs 2004 and 2006 (in percentages, FY 2004 - FY 2006)
|HQ Operational Divisions||4-7||12-26||14-18||13-12||19-15||33-20||4-3||1-0|
|Other FBI Entities||2-10||6-16||49-21||12-22||13-13||16-12||2-5||1-1|
|Source: OIG based on FBI data|
The percentage of analysts in the field at the GS-14 supervisory intelligence analysts level increased from 1 percent in FY 2004 to 10 percent in April 2006. In addition, since May 2006 20 GS-14s have been placed in field offices. Therefore, more field office intelligence analysts are being supervised by supervisory analysts instead of by special agents. An FBI official stated that each field office decides if intelligence analysts should be supervised by a more senior analyst or by a special agent, but that more field offices are moving toward hiring additional supervisory intelligence analysts. Analysts told us that they prefer reporting to supervisory analysts who understand their role and capabilities and who can provide more appropriate guidance.
The following chart depicts the change in the field office grade structure between FYs 2004 and 2006.
Source: OIG based on FBI data
In FY 2006 the FBI established a 9-week course covering the two ACES courses 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, intelligence analysts receive an additional 4 weeks of specialized intelligence training covering various systems and tools that analysts can use. Included in this second phase of Cohort is a 4-hour joint exercise involving new analysts and new special agents. At the time of the current audit, however, this exercise was the only formal interaction between special agents and intelligence analysts during training. According to an FBI training official, as of August 2006, 2,010 analysts had attended basic training: 392 intelligence analysts attended Cohort, 885 attended the ACES-1 class, and 733 attended the ACES 1.5 class. Forty-one analysts were still required to attend ACES-1 (some of whom were registered for a September 2006 class), and 127 analysts were still required to attend ACES 1.5 (some of whom were registered for August or September 2006 classes). However, as discussed below, the FBI has not yet established an analyst training program that meets the expressed needs of analysts, their supervisors, or Directorate on Intelligence executives.
Evaluating Analyst Training
During the current audit, 55 percent of the 60 intelligence analysts we interviewed in FBI field offices and Headquarters told us that the analyst training (ACES-1, ACES 1.5, and Cohort) they attended did not meet, or completely failed to meet, their expectations for helping them do their job. Twenty-five percent of the analysts noted that the training lacks the hands-on practical exercises required to help them learn how to perform their daily tasks, such as writing intelligence assessments or intelligence information reports. Underscoring this point, approximately half of the 16 supervisory analysts we interviewed stated that intelligence analysts need better training in writing intelligence products.
Source: OIG interviews
In addition, a senior FBI training official said that the new Cohort class is nearly identical to the ACES course, but instead there should be more specialized training, such as in counterterrorism or criminal investigations. She stated that the consequence of the current curriculum is an analytical work force that is not well-prepared and that has to find its own way in learning the job. Further, both the Assistant Director and the Acting Deputy Assistant Director for the Directorate of Intelligence acknowledged that training for the FBI’s intelligence analysts is inadequate. The Assistant Director told us he wants to analyze the skills that analysts require and determine what additional training is needed to develop those skills. However, he said he does not want to develop a new course if training is available through other agencies and if FBI employees can attend. Also, he believes 9 consecutive weeks is too long a time to train new analysts, because it disrupts the work and personal lives of those entering duty. The Acting Deputy Assistant Director also stated that intelligence analyst training is lacking. In recognition of the continuing need to improve analyst training, the FBI held meetings in April and August 2006 to better define job roles and shape the training program to better prepare analysts to perform within those roles.
In commenting on a draft of this report, the FBI said it has used subject matter experts and managers throughout the development of all of the FBI’s intelligence analyst training programs. However, even with such input to the curriculum, an FBI training section chief told us that FBI Training and Development Division staff developed the analyst training curricula with little influence from experienced intelligence analysts and supervisors. Moreover, we analyzed the curriculum and found little difference between the ACES courses and Cohort courses. As stated above, FBI officials agreed there was no substantive difference between the two courses. We therefore recommend more extensive involvement of experienced analysts and supervisors in the development of the curriculum for intelligence analysts.
Moreover, in our previous report we recommended that the FBI integrate testing into its training curriculum. We believe that testing students would help instructors assess how well the class understands the concepts presented.
Although the FBI agreed with the recommendation, it has not yet implemented a testing process. However, in its most recent response to our recommendation, the FBI said it has developed testing blueprints and conducted testing pilots with two Cohort classes. Additionally, the FBI said it plans to: conduct a third testing pilot with a Cohort class; work with the Administrative Services Division, the Directorate of Intelligence, and the Office of the General Counsel to develop a human resource policy for how test scores affect conditional hire status; and implement a final testing program. Yet, the FBI did not state a time frame for implementing a testing process, nor did it provide an assessment of the pilot results.
We also recommended in our prior report that the FBI ensure all analyst training classes are full rather than leaving vacancies in the classroom. We closed this recommendation based on documentation from the FBI showing the last four sessions of ACES-1 in 2005 were full. We confirmed in our current audit that the FBI continues to keep the classes occupied at an adequate level.
We also recommended previously that the FBI develop a more rigorous training evaluation system that includes the effectiveness and relevance of each instructional block; asks analysts what other topics need to be covered; obtains the views of analysts after returning to work when they can evaluate the effectiveness of the training in improving their job skills; and obtains evaluations of training effectiveness from analysts’ supervisors. We closed this recommendation based on documentation showing the FBI developed a training evaluation system for ACES-1.
However, during the current audit we found no evidence that the FBI ensures that all students complete an evaluation or that the data from evaluations is being used to improve the current curriculum. Also, there is no follow-up evaluation by either the student or the supervisor to help assess the usefulness of the training in the real world once the student returns to the workplace. We are therefore replacing the previous recommendation with a new recommendation that the FBI make training evaluations mandatory and to use the results to identify any needed improvements in the curriculum.
The 60 analysts we interviewed during the current audit generally said they believed they are contributing significantly to the FBI’s mission: 63 percent of these analysts rated their contribution as “very high” or “high,” and 35 percent said their contribution to the FBI’s mission is “average.” Only 2 percent of the intelligence analysts interviewed rated their contributions as “low.” These results are similar to the results of our more extensive survey discussed in the 2005 report, when 73 percent of analysts perceived their contribution to the FBI as “very high” or “high,” and 23 percent rated their contribution as “average.” The 2004 and 2006 results, while not statistically comparable due to the more limited sample in 2006, indicate continuing general satisfaction by the analysts of their contribution to the FBI’s mission. The chart below shows the extent to which analysts believe they are contributing to the FBI’s mission.
Source: OIG survey and interviews
Satisfaction with Work Assignments
The vast majority of intelligence analysts we interviewed during the current audit continue to express satisfaction with their work assignments: 84 percent said they are satisfied, the same percentage as our previous, more extensive survey. The supervisory intelligence analysts we interviewed also said they were satisfied with the work products that intelligence analysts produce. However, as discussed in the Training section of this report, most of the analysts’ supervisors believe there is room for improvement in the analysts’ written products and that more specialized training in completing these products would be beneficial. Again, although the data is not statistically comparable, it indicates that the FBI’s intelligence analysts continue to be generally satisfied with their work assignments.
Of the 60 analysts we interviewed, 82 percent said their work is intellectually challenging. The result mirrors the results of our prior survey, where 85 percent said they are challenged. The following chart compares data from our 2004 survey and 2006 interviews on the extent to which analysts find their work intellectually challenging.
In this follow-up review, we found that the majority of intelligence analysts had expectations for the job that were similar to the work they are performing. The results were similar to the 2004 survey.15
Extent of Non-Analytical Work
In our prior audit, we found that, on average, analysts spent 31 percent of their time on administrative work, and they estimated that one-third of this administrative work was not related to their job. For example, analysts said they were performing a significant amount of non-analytical duties such as escort, trash, watch, or command post duty. However, according to intelligence analysts, supervisory analysts, and other FBI officials we interviewed during the current audit, the utilization of analysts for analytical work has improved. Analysts told us that they do not now typically perform the types of non-analytical duties cited in our prior report. Over 90 percent of the analysts we interviewed told us they spend from no time to under 25 percent of their time on administrative duties not related to their role.16
Still, several analysts reported that in some cases they perform administrative functions. We believe that many of the administrative functions these analysts reported would be better suited for investigative support or intelligence assistance personnel. For example, intelligence analysts in one field office were responsible for uploading data into an intelligence-related database. This routine but time-consuming function does not require any analysis and could be performed by an intelligence assistant or other support personnel. While most employees in any organization perform some administrative tasks, we believe – as we recommended in our prior report – that the FBI should systematically examine the duties performed by intelligence analysts to determine whether some tasks might be more efficiently performed by other categories of employees. However, we also noted in our current audit that the FBI is attempting to address this concern by assigning some of the more administrative duties to intelligence assistants, such as compiling and disseminating routine reports, maintaining intelligence databases, and reviewing and analyzing intelligence documents for format and required information.
Professional Differences Between Analysts and Special Agents
Eighty percent of the analysts – and every analyst supervisor – we interviewed stated that special agents misunderstand the functions and capabilities of intelligence analysts at least some of the time. They also told us – and we confirmed – there has been no special agent training on the role and capabilities of intelligence analysts, other than the relatively brief joint exercise involving new analysts and new special agents during Cohort training.
Yet, although our interviews of 60 analysts cannot statistically be compared with our more comprehensive survey reported in 2005, there appears to be some improvement in the analysts belief that agents understand the role of analysts. Eighteen percent of analysts we interviewed said that special agents rarely or never understand the functions and capabilities of intelligence analysts, compared to 27 percent in our prior report.
In our interviews, we heard that prior to September 11, 2001, special agents viewed intelligence analysts as secretaries or administrative support personnel. We believe this perception was partly the result of special agents not receiving specific training on the functions and capabilities of intelligence analysts. In the past, when intelligence analysts were part of the Intelligence Assistant job series (series 134), it became routine to view intelligence analysts as only able to perform administrative duties of a non-analytical nature. However, we found that as a result of the changes in the FBI after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has made significant improvements in establishing the current cadre of intelligence analysts, with a professional job series (series 132).
Many intelligence analysts believe that some special agents have not changed their perception and continue to view intelligence analysts as administrative support staff rather than equal professional partners. This perception may lead to underutilization of intelligence analysts and to a professional divide. Further, most analysts and supervisors we interviewed told us there is a noticeable segregation of special agents and analysts, particularly in FBI field offices.
As in the May 2005 report, our current audit found that the lack of respect that analysts feel boils down to one concept: analysts are labeled “support” personnel rather than intelligence analyst professionals on par with the FBI’s special agents. Our 2005 report found that there was a wide professional divide between support staff and agents. During interviews for this audit, we asked analysts to tell us whether the term “support staff” carried a negative feeling when applied to intelligence analysts. In response, 53 percent said “yes.” This is similar to the 60 percent who answered “yes” in our May 2005 report.
However, officials in the Intelligence Career Management Section said they are optimistic that as the intelligence analyst program becomes more developed and embedded in the structure of the FBI, intelligence analysts will be better utilized to perform intelligence analysis and reporting. Intelligence analysts told us that the newer special agents tend to be more willing to assign tasks to them that are analytical in nature, once they understood that an intelligence analyst can and should be utilized in this capacity. However, the analysts told us that some special agents – both supervisory and non-supervisory – continue to view intelligence analysts as just a spin-off of the administrative series and therefore are not open to allowing them to perform intelligence-related work. With our limited sample of analysts and supervisors it is difficult to assess the pervasiveness of this professional divide in the FBI, but enough analysts told us that they still perceive such a divide to make it a significant issue that the FBI needs to address. Consequently, we believe the FBI needs to devote continued attention to breaking down any perceived or actual barriers between special agents and analysts.
To build an appropriately sized analytical corps, it is especially important that the FBI retain the intelligence analysts it hires. As shown in the following chart, the attrition rate for analysts has ranged between 6 and 10 percent from FY 2002 to FY 2006. During FYs 2005 and 2006, 312 intelligence analysts left the FBI’s analytical corps. Of those who left, 208 left the FBI entirely and 104 took other positions within the agency. We found that the 12 percent attrition rate for intelligence analysts located at FBI Headquarters in FY 2006 was substantially higher than the 5 percent rate in the FBI’s 56 field offices, and is cause for concern.
Source: OIG based on FBI data
Sixty-five percent of the 60 intelligence analysts we interviewed during the current audit said they plan to stay with the FBI for at least the next 5 years, 20 percent said they are not likely to stay, and the remaining 15 percent said they were uncertain. Analysts who said they plan to stay with the FBI primarily cited the following reasons: (1) pride in working for the FBI, (2) rewarding work, and (3) co-workers. Analysts who expect to leave in the next 5 years primarily cited the reason as retirement or concerns about their long-term careers with the FBI. The following table compares data from our 2005 report to our current audit on what analysts reported about their plans on staying with the FBI.
Intelligence Analysts Planning to Stay With the FBI
staying for the
next 5 years
|May 2005 a||Current|
|Source: OIG interviews of FBI intelligence analysts|
Note (a): Does not add to 100 due to rounding.
As discussed below, the FBI now performs exit surveys of all individuals who leave the intelligence analyst position. In addition, to enhance retention the FBI offers student loan repayments, bonuses, and an Intelligence Officer Certification program.17 We believe these are positive efforts that will aid in retaining qualified intelligence analysts.
Further, after requesting and receiving an exemption from legal restrictions, the FBI has increased the intelligence analyst career path to the GS-15 and Senior Executive Service levels, thereby placing the FBI on equal footing with other intelligence agencies to compete for and retain intelligence analysts.18 The ability to promote intelligence analysts to non-supervisory senior level positions should contribute to the retention of qualified intelligence analysts.
To achieve a strategic objective of a well-educated, highly trained, and appropriately sized analytical work force, the FBI recognizes that it must retain its well-trained and productive intelligence analysts. The Assistant Director of the Directorate of Intelligence stated that the Directorate is actively managing the retention of intelligence analysts by constantly monitoring the attrition rate and surveying intelligence analysts to better understand their career needs. However, the FBI still has not established formal retention or succession plans as recommended in our prior audit report, although it agreed to do so. A section chief in the Directorate of Intelligence told us that there are not enough personnel to develop formal retention and succession plans. We are skeptical of this explanation, and we continue to believe that the FBI should establish formal retention and succession plans and strategies as a part of its human capital planning effort. Such plans would include forecasts of attrition, incorporating estimated attrition into hiring goals and strategies, and efforts to reduce turnover.
In response to the OIG’s prior recommendation, the Directorate of Intelligence developed an exit survey for all professional support personnel leaving their positions in the Directorate. In March 2006, the Directorate requested that FBI Headquarters and field offices ensure that all intelligence analysts, language analysts, and physical surveillance specialists leaving their positions complete an automated Personnel Exit Survey before their departure. FBI officials stated that this feedback will be used to continue making improvements in retention, recruitment, training, leadership, and career development, among other areas.
The FBI’s automated Personnel Exit Survey solicits responses from departing employees in the following areas:
Although the data is collected as analysts leave, the FBI reported that the Directorate of Intelligence plans to analyze the survey results biannually. The Directorate’s Intelligence Personnel Resources Unit would then prepare a report of findings and share the results with senior FBI and National Security Branch management.
At the time of our audit, the results of the initial round of surveys had not yet been analyzed by the FBI. However, we reviewed the FBI’s analysis of limited data from its pilot exit survey of 22 analysts who left their positions between July 1, 2005, and January 31, 2006.19 The reasons cited by the 22 analysts for leaving their positions included:
The FBI has made progress in improving the hiring, training, utilization, and retention of intelligence analysts, but in some areas the progress has been slow and uneven. More than 18 months after our original report, 10 of the 15 prior OIG recommendations remain open, and the FBI is still working on key areas such as the lack of (1) threat and risk-based criteria to determine the number of analysts needed to meet its mission and to allocate all analysts in both Headquarters and field offices to where they are most needed, (2) hiring goals based on the projected need for additional analysts, and (3) succession and retention plans and strategies with measurable goals.
However, the FBI has made progress in hiring additional qualified intelligence analysts since our May 2005 audit report, cut its vacancy rate in half since FY 2004, and improved analysts’ career path to help the FBI better compete with other intelligence agencies in the job market. But its hiring shortfall of 400 analysts in FY 2006 demonstrates the continuing difficulty facing the FBI in attracting qualified analysts. Further, the lengthening time required to bring newly hired analysts aboard – nearly a 3-month increase since FY 2004 – is troublesome because it not only slows the entry of analysts into the FBI workforce but also can result in the FBI losing qualified candidates.
We found that job satisfaction of analysts remains strong. Most believe they are making important contributions to the FBI’s mission. The FBI also deserves credit for improving the utilization of its analysts, who for the most part no longer are required to perform administrative tasks unrelated to their analytical duties.
The FBI has struggled to establish a strong training curriculum for analysts. Our prior report described the growing pains in developing an effective curriculum, and the comments of analysts and Directorate of Intelligence officials during our current audit show that the current program, despite several iterations, is still lacking. We also agree with those analysts and intelligence managers who believe the training program needs a greater emphasis on the specific skills analysts need in their FBI positions. We continue to believe that at least part of the reason for weaknesses in the analyst training program stems from a lack of adequate input by analysts and other intelligence professionals in the curriculum development process. Also, although the FBI established a training evaluation system, it has not been implemented adequately and is not being used for its intended purpose of improving the training curriculum. Further, the FBI has not integrated student testing into the curriculum, although the FBI is working on establishing a testing program.
We believe that the professional divide between analysts and special agents may be lessening somewhat, but barriers to full acceptance and cooperation between the two groups should be addressed if the FBI is to most efficiently and effectively apply all its resources to meeting its highest priority of preventing terrorist acts. The FBI’s training program does little to foster an environment of mutual respect between these two categories of professional employees.
We believe the FBI’s 9-percent attrition rate for intelligence analysts is at a reasonable level, although we believe the FBI should examine the causes for the recent rise in attrition of Headquarters analysts. While the majority of analysts we interviewed told us that they plan to stay at least 5 years, the fact that about a third of analysts we interviewed are planning to leave or are not sure they will stay for at least 5 years is cause for concern. We continue to believe that the FBI needs to develop formal retention and succession plans and strategies, including manageable goals.
In addition to the 10 open recommendations from our May 2005 audit report to improve its intelligence analyst program, we recommend that the FBI:20
At the time of this audit, the FBI conducted its own background investigations. However, The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 addressed the need to streamline the process by which government agencies grant security clearances. While the Act directs the President to select a single entity to conduct all security clearance investigations, the FBI has not yet changed its policy of conducting its own background investigations.
Advanced degrees consist of a professional 6-year degree, master’s, doctorate, or juris doctorate.
The specific allocation is classified.
In instances where the expectations did not match, a few of the reasons given were poor placement, less analytical work than expected, and vague job descriptions in the application.
Our interviews asked for estimates in ranges, not for the specific time spent on administrative duties unrelated to analysts’ job roles. The lowest range was zero to 24 percent.
The Intelligence Officer Certification is a credential that recognizes achievement in and long-term commitment to the intelligence profession, as demonstrated through experience, education, and training. All special agents, intelligence analysts, language analysts, and surveillance specialists are eligible to participate in the certification program.
Legislation entitled Making Appropriations for Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes, signed on December 8, 2004, provided the FBI with additional flexibility to hire and retain highly skilled intelligence personnel through an amendment to Title 5 of the U.S. Code.
Although only 22 analysts responded, 45 were contacted. Overall, 88 analysts had left their specific positions during the period, but many could not be reached or had simply changed analyst positions at the FBI.
The 10 open recommendations are listed in Appendix 8.
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