TESTIMONY OF SHERI A. FARRAR
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIVISION
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Before the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee
International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services
United States Senate
March 12, 2002
Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators of the
Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to come before you
on the subject of Critical Skills for National Security and
the Homeland Workforce Act (S. 1800).
My name is Sheri Farrar.
I am currently assigned as the Assistant Director,
Administrative Services Division, Federal Bureau of
have served in the FBI for over 20 years in assignments in
several field offices as well as at FBI headquarters.
The FBI's Administrative Services Division, is
responsible for working with the FBI's program managers to
identify our workforce needs and develop our hiring plan.
Our hiring plan and recruitment strategies for both
Special Agent and professional support employees for FY 2002
is designed to ensure that we are recruiting and hiring people
who have the critical skills needed to enable the FBI to
successfully achieve its mission.
I am joined here today by Mrs. Leah Meisel, the Deputy
Assistant Director of Administrative Services and one of the
FBI's Personnel Officers and Mrs. Margaret Gulotta, Section
Chief of the FBI's Language Services Section.
At the conclusion of the formal testimony, we are all
available to answer your questions.
The FBI currently has significant requirements for
Special Agent and Support employees with critical skills in
science, engineering, computer science and a number of foreign
expect these needs to continue for at least the next several
years. This year
alone we expect to hire approximately 960 new Agents.
Of these, we have determined, based on our assessment
of skill needs that approximately 20 percent should have
backgrounds in computer science and information technology,
approximately 10 percent should have education and experience
in physical and natural sciences, and another 10 percent
should possess a background in various fields of engineering.
Further, it would be advantageous for another
approximately 20 percent to have a foreign language
proficiency in our priorities of Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu, Urdu,
all dialects of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish
and Vietnamese. The
remainder of our Special Agent candidates will be drawn from
other such priority backgrounds as foreign
counterintelligence, counterterrorism and military
intelligence, in addition to recruiting candidates with the
more traditional background of law enforcement, law and
FBI's Special Agent Hiring Plan focuses on recruiting to these
specialty needs and has prioritized the processing of those
candidates who possess these critical skills. The FBI recently implemented its on-line application
capability on the internet.
Since the implementation of this system approximately
one month ago, we have received over 11,000 applications for
the Special Agent position.
The system allows candidates to "self
-identify" their skill areas.
Those candidates who "self identify" a
critical skill are immediately sent to the appropriate field
office for priority processing.
These applicants are in addition to those who are
recruited by our field offices.
While we are early in the process of implementing our
targeted recruitment strategy for Special Agent candidates
possessing these particular skills, we are cautiously
optimistic about our ability to recruit sufficient numbers of
Our hiring plan for professional support personnel
requires that we hire over 1400 personnel.
This number is comprised of newly funded positions from
our FY 2002 Appropriations and the Counterterrorism
supplemental as well as replacement of personnel lost through
majority of the new positions (204 from FY 02 enhancements and
526 from the CT supplemental) are in specialized categories
supporting our intelligence mission as well as our information
technology, language and technical programs.
The FBI is aggressively recruiting to fill these
position using our on-line application system as well as
targeted recruiting activities.
To date, the FBI has received over 8600 applications
for the over 1200 support positions which have been advertised
to date. While we
are still early in the hiring process, all indications are
that the candidate pool includes highly qualified candidates
for the advertised positions.
Not only do we need personnel who have these skills and
experience, but we must hire those who can meet our rigorous
requirements for professional and personal maturity, have the
requisite communication and leadership skills, and be able to
successfully pass our background investigation process to
determine suitability and trustworthiness.
For the FBI, the number one priority for skills from
those I have mentioned thus far, and across all investigative
and supporting programs, is that of computer and information
technology literacy. This
is true regardless of what an individual's educational,
primary skill set and experience base is.
This is being driven by several factors:
the pervasive use of computer-based technologies in all
areas of our lives and, certainly by those seeking more
innovative ways to engage in criminal activity; the continuing
rapid advancement of computer, information, wireless and
telecommunications technology by their respective industries;
the ready availability of this technology for
use by the FBI and other
law enforcement agencies, as well as by the subjects of
our investigations in all programs and environments, including
those which involve national and homeland security; and the
absolute requirement of the FBI to be able to fully exploit
such for intelligence and evidentiary purposes, by lawful
means for lawful purposes.
Certainly, our ability to utilize technology to manage
the information we obtain also improves our ability to share
that information with our law enforcement and intelligence
community counterparts. We
expect that our demand for computer skills will continue to
increase in the years to come.
Let me now specifically address the questions you
First, "How have the events of September 11th affected
the skills needed at the FBI?
What is the significance of strong math, science and
foreign language expertise in the FBI and what combinations of
these skills are most useful to the Bureau's mission?"
Actually, for some years, we have seen the need
emerging to hire a greater percentage of employees with the
skills noted previously.
We have been aggressively pursuing the hiring of
scientists and engineers for some time.
The events of September 11th galvanized us into an
action plan to enhance our recruitment focus on identifying
Special Agent applicants with the skills noted earlier. Certainly our need for Agents with experience in computer and
information technology as well as engineers is critical to
enable our efforts to exploit digital evidence and the
technologies that collect, convey or process digital
our Agents deploy both domestically and internationally to
collect evidence at crime scenes, our successes are also
enhanced with personnel who have an expertise in physical and
natural sciences. The
FBI's responsibilities in the areas of domestic preparedness
had already heightened our awareness to the need
for fully training hazardous materials experts, often
individuals with science background, but this need has
intensified in the wake of the anthrax investigation and the
necessity for Agents to respond to potentially hazardous crime
as important are the necessary language skills to assist in
collecting and analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses and
subjects and the ability to effectively communicate while
working cooperatively with our law enforcement and
intelligence counterparts overseas.
As you would expect, our greatest language need at the
present time is in Middle Eastern and Central Asian languages.
It became readily apparent to us that we no longer have
the luxury of borrowing these skills from others, who may or
may not have them to loan, to meet our needs or satisfy our
I would add that another significant reason for the FBI
to enhance its efforts to hire increased
numbers of personnel with the necessary critical skills
is to ensure our ability to quickly and effectively respond to
major crime scenes and to reinforce our ability to sustain
adequate resources for multiple long term investigations.
When our level of resources in a particular area of
expertise is limited, it is obviously
more difficult to effectively staff
all aspects of an investigation.
Having adequate pools of personnel with these critical
skills permits us to plan and prepare for, as well as prevent
future events, not just provide a reactive response after the
can the student loan repayment provisions in S.1800 be most
beneficial for the FBI to recruit those with requisite
program that enables the FBI to be more competitive in
recruiting and retaining the necessary skills is beneficial,
so we certainly support the concept of the legislation.
In that regard, we would, however, like to make a few
observations concerning the language of the bill.
As you know, the FBI is in the excepted service.
Consequently, as drafted,
many of our employees would not be eligible under the
S. 1800. The FBI
is currently covered by existing guidance which allows
repayment of student loans to be used as a recruitment and
retention tool and are not restricted to only national
security positions. Since
we only recently have developed our loan repayment policy, it
is too early to determine if it will be beneficial to our
recruitment and retention efforts. We are also concerned that S. 1800 could create additional,
unnecessary levels of bureaucracy, to include the management
and administration of the funding, which have a tendency to
inhibit the use of flexibilities.
We are grateful that this subcommittee is interested in
supporting the National security mission by developing
programs to enhance our ability to attract the critical skills
that we need. In
that connection, we strongly encourage you to also consider
the flexibilities available under the Administrationís
proposed Managerial Flexibility Act of 2001,
which would provide agencies with greater ability to
address workforce issues.
The FBI looks forward to working with the members of
your subcommittee and the other agencies to continue to
address ways to enhance our ability to recruit and retain the
skills needed to successfully achieve our missions.
has the FBI's needs for math, science and foreign language
skills changed over the last several years?"
In the past, the FBI sought Agents and support
employees with scientific and technical backgrounds to work in
the FBI Laboratory and to support our Engineering Research
Facility and technical programs.
However, the FBI maintained its emphasis on recruiting
attorneys, accountants and former law enforcement personnel
for the majority of its Agent positions.
Changes in technology, the enhancement of our
information technology needs, the establishment of the
National Infrastructure Protection Center at FBIHQ, our
growing responsibilities and increased work in the areas of
domestic preparedness, computer crimes, and most
significantly, our expanded terrorism responsibilities to
include the enhanced responsibilities to coordinate
information sharing have all impacted on our need to seek
different critical skills.
The FBI has adjusted its recruiting strategies and
enhanced the use of all available recruitment and retention
flexibilities to shape our workforce for the future.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.
Mrs. Meisel, Mrs. Gulotta and I will be happy to answer
the Subcommittee's questions at the appropriate time.