WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is urging FBI Director Robert Mueller to take swift action to remedy a cheating scandal confirmed by the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG). Agents cheated on a Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) test, designed to gauge their knowledge of new counterterrorism procedures.
Senator Collins wrote to Director Mueller, pressing him to implement all of the IG’s recommendations, “including a complete review across the FBI of whether or not other employees were engaged in cheating on the DIOG exam, implementation of immediate disciplinary action against those employees identified as cheating on the exam, and immediate retesting on the DIOG for those employees whose conduct you determine does not warrant firing.”
“To be effective, the DIOG’s instructions and limitations must be instinctive for FBI employees,” Senator Collins said in her letter. “They must fully appreciate the nuances and legal underpinnings of the guidelines. They must understand what they can and cannot do, and when they should seek additional legal guidance. The cheating revealed by the IG’s report raises serious doubts about the commitment of many FBI employees to this level of understanding and about their fundamental integrity.”
Senator Collins’ letter follows the IG’s stunning report, which found widespread cheating among FBI employees in taking the DIOG test. The IG identified 22 individuals, including several senior executives, who had colluded on exam answers, and FBI cyber crimes employees who had hacked into computer programming to obtain exam answers.
Glenn Fine, the Justice Department IG, urged the FBI in his Sept. 27 report to investigate the cheating scandal further. The FBI found that 200 individuals had completed the on-line, open-book exam in less than 20 minutes, when the estimated time for completion is 90 minutes.
The full text of Senator Collins’ letter follows:
October 7, 2010
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller III
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Dear Director Mueller:
I am writing to express my deep concern over the recent findings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) of widespread cheating by certain employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on an examination designed to test their knowledge of the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG). The IG’s report raises serious concerns about the integrity of these law enforcement officials.
The DIOG examination is given to FBI employees to help ensure that those who work for the FBI understand their authority to conduct important investigations, as well as the limits of that authority. When the new DIOG was issued in 2008, it was intended to be the sole guidance for how the FBI would apply its authorities to prevent terrorism and to deter and investigate crimes, while safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.
Given the significance of the DIOG, the findings of the IG are alarming. The investigation was initiated because of allegations of cheating and because 200 employees had completed the exam within 20 minutes when it was estimated to take at least 90 minutes. In examining five field offices, the IG determined that a significant number of those interviewed had cheated on the exam, that there was widespread distribution and use of answer sheets on the open-book examination, and that examiners falsely indicated by signing that they did not collude.
In one case, the IG found that two Special Agents in Charge (SACs) took the exam in the same room with a legal advisor while discussing answers with each other and while the head of the Washington Field Office (WFO) took notes for when he took the exam later himself. Although one of these senior officers has resigned, two remain employed by the Bureau following disciplinary action.
In addition, the IG discovered that FBI cybercrimes investigators used their computer skills to hack into software and obtain answers to exam questions. There was also an attempt to obstruct the IG investigation by certain FBI attorneys, who colluded with each other prior to interviews by IG agents.
The findings of the IG raise serious questions about the integrity of the FBI employees as well as the FBI’s overall regard for the significance of the DIOG. To be successful, the FBI must use the full array of its authorities within boundaries that are defined by the Constitution, our laws, and the DIOG. There is no shortage of high-profile cases that demonstrate the need for FBI employees to understand the full scope of their authorities, yet still appreciate the lawful limits of their activities. For example, FBI officials that briefed the Committee shortly after the terrorist attack on Fort Hood indicated possible limitations in the DIOG regarding the ability to share information with the Department of Defense. These limitations proved non-existent after subsequent briefings on the DIOG.
A more complete understanding of the DIOG and other authorities by Joint Terrorism Task Force employees might have helped avert the attack on Fort Hood. Other cases, including recent revelations concerning FBI investigations of Americans lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights or abuses of national security letters (NSLs), clearly demonstrate the importance of understanding the DIOG and other legal limitations.
To be effective, the DIOG’s instructions and limitations must be instinctive for FBI employees. They must fully appreciate the nuances and legal underpinnings of the guidelines. They must understand what they can and cannot do, and when they should seek additional legal guidance. The cheating revealed by the IG’s report raises serious doubts about the commitment of many FBI employees to this level of understanding and about their fundamental integrity.
I recognize that in your nine years as Director of the FBI, you have endeavored to maintain the core principle of integrity within the Bureau and have strived to transform the FBI into an agile agency that is well-suited to defend against crimes and other terrorism threats that are now more sophisticated, transnational, and deadly. I am confident that you share my concerns that the numerous incidents revealed by the IG’s investigation threatens the Bureau’s progress. I ask that you take immediate steps to implement all of the recommendations within the IG report, including a complete review across the FBI of whether or not other employees were engaged in cheating on the DIOG exam, implementation of immediate disciplinary action against those employees identified as cheating on the exam, and immediate retesting on the DIOG for those employees whose conduct you determine does not warrant firing.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Susan M. Collins