FBI Agents Association Releases Report Detailing Shutdown’s Impact on Agents

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents Association (FBIAA), which supports and advocates on behalf of 14,000 active and former FBI Special Agents, released a 72-page report detailing how the government shutdown has fueled a new national security risk.

Due to lapses in appropriations, the FBI and Department of Justice remain without funding and shut down; however, most agents are considered essential personnel and are required to continue working without pay.

The FBIAA report outlines three key areas in which this shutdown inhibits the functioning of the agency as a whole.

First, the FBIAA explains that special agents are consistently subject to “rigorous and routine financial background checks” to mitigate the potential for bribery. As the shutdown forces agents to miss paychecks, the likelihood that they also miss payments and acquire debt is high. The FBIAA notes that this can create delays in issuing and renewing security clearances, and could possibly disqualify some agents from continuing to serve.

The FBIAA further explains that the basic operations of the FBI require funding.

The report notes, “As the shutdown continues, Special Agents remain at work for the American people without being paid, and FBI leadership is doing all it can to fund FBI operations with increasingly limited resources—this situation is not sustainable.”

Finally, the report notes that pay uncertainty harms the FBI’s ability to recruit and retain professional talent. Qualified individuals who would previously choose to work for the American people are now searching for more stable career options.

After outlining the problem in macro terms, the report includes stories from federal agents in several operational divisions dealing with dangerous threats without abundant resources or any pay.

A western region agent working in Crimes Against Children and Sex Trafficking explained, “FBI offices… are having investigations stalled, to include delayed forensic interviews of child victims and delaying grand jury indictments on homicides and child sexual assault prosecutions. Our child victims deserve timely interviews to increase successful preservation of their testimony. The cases are being delayed for grand jury because we can't get medical records from certain Indian Hospitals with attorneys who are furloughed. Additionally, cases are being delayed for grand jury because investigators can't obtain land status information, [which is necessary for jurisdiction]. The impact is we aren't able to take cases to grand jury to seek indictments/ warrants in order to get our most violent offenders arrested and justice for our victims.”

A legal attaché working in Counter-Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism furthers, “Because of lack of funding, I am unable to travel to the countries in my [area of responsibility]. This means investigations are stalling, information sharing is diminished, and relationships with foreign partners are weakening.”

Other agents provide account of subpoenas that will not be processed, delaying investigations and local law enforcement groups that are seeking FBI assistance which they are unable to provide.

The FBIAA put it simply, “One overriding fact is clear when you listen to FBI agents: financial security is national security. For agents and the FBIAA, the right for funding is not political. It is a matter of completing our mission and protecting the Constitution and the people of our nation.”

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