FBI cheating confirmed by Justice Department
The Justice Department said Monday it found "a significant number of FBI employees engaged in some form of improper conduct or cheating" on an exam and suggested the scandal may eventually spread far beyond the four field offices it investigated.
"We believe the extent of the cheating related to this test was greater than the cases we detailed in this report, which is based on our limited investigation in only four FBI field offices, one resident agency, and two Headquarters components," the report from Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said.
The test was administered to some 20,000 employees to make sure they understood the 2008 Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG, promulgated as a result of new rules implemented after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"Of the FBI employees that we interviewed about their conduct in taking the DIOG exam, 22 cheated or acted improperly in some manner related to the exam," the OIG said. "We recognize that the amount of cheating that we identified in our limited interviews cannot be extrapolated to the entire population of FBI test-takers."
On the other hand, it said, "we believe there was more cheating and improper conduct than we identified through our limited interviews and investigation" and urged the FBI to determine "whether other FBI employees cheated on or engaged in inappropriate conduct."
Although the IG report conceded that the tests were unusually difficult and time-consuming, the questions sometimes "poorly worded" and the rules for giving the examinations not always clear, it said that was no excuse.
The IG seemed especially upset that a number of FBI agents had certified that they had not consulted with others before or during the test when they clearly had.
"As described in this report, in our limited investigation at several FBI offices, we found that many FBI employees violated various FBI rules in connection with the exam by consulting with others, falsely certifying that they had consulted with no one, using answer sheets or study guides that provided the questions and answers on the exam, or exploiting flawed computer programming to reveal the answers on the test."
"Several supervisors" were involved in cheating, the IG said, "including two ASACs [assistant special agents in charge], two SSAs [supervisory special agents], and a legal advisor... Almost all of those who cheated falsely certified on Question 51 (the final question of the exam) that they had not consulted with others."
The report did not identified them by name, but at least one official, Joseph Persichini Jr., the number two official in the FBI's Washington Field Office, retired last December because of his involvement in the afffair, according to reports.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told Congress in July he did not know how deep the cheating went.
"I've got a general idea, but I do not know how many," Mueller testified. "And I am not certain the IG knows how many either."
On Monday Mueller said he was "disappointed with the misconduct described in the report" and pledged to "follow-up in each of the 22 cases the IG has found for disciplinary action, as appropriate, as well as any other allegations of misconduct."
“The vast majority of FBI employees successfully completed the DIOG training and the open-book examination that followed, in accordance with the test-taking instructions," Mueller added in a statement posted on the FBI's Web site.
"While the Office of Inspector General has identified a number of factors that contributed to problems with the test-taking, nothing excuses the conduct of those who chose not to comply when instructions were clear.”
Konrad Motyka, President of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), pointed out that "there were systemic problems related to the training and instructions connected to the DIOG exam. Specifically the report notes that there was a 'lack of official policy" and that instructions and guidance for the exam varied widely."
Motyka added, "All parties have learned from this experience -- from the Bureau to the DIOG examinees. We look forward to working with the Bureau to develop better procedures to ensure that future exams are conducted in a uniform manner with clear and consistent instruction in all locations."
| September 27, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Categories: Intelligence, Justice/FBI | Tags: Robert S. Mueller III
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