FBI IT Division Reforms Hiring Practices

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) is changing the way they seek information technology (IT) talent in their office. Rather than hiring cybersecurity analysts and data scientists for their specific skills related to their field, the division will be focusing more on personalities expected to succeed in their environment.

Brian Griffith, Section Chief of the IT Management Section of the CJIS, explained at the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Technology Forum this week that recruiting experience heavy specialists to the division was like “trying to hit a bullet with a bullet.”

Instead of prioritizing these qualities, the division will now focus on “people with aptitude” and a “sense of mission.”

This new prioritization also aligns with an effort to increase communal, team focused work.

“As we move to an agile workforce and the idea that people work as part of teams, you really don’t need a few, specialized people within the enterprise,” Griffith said. “You need great generals who are able to fill in as a developer, as a base person, as a tester, maybe occasionally becoming scrum master and leading those teams.”

The FBI’s CJIS has had some difficulty hiring specialized talent due to their location in Clarksburg, West Virginia. According to Griffith, the area is not appealing to many college graduates in the IT field. The division has therefore worked to create partnerships with West Virginia University, Fairmont State University, and nearby universities such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburg.

Kimberly Del Greco, former acting director of CJIS, previously told West Virginia News that the division currently has more than 2,500 employees and around 1,000 contractors working on the Clarksburg campus.

“We try every six to eight months to put out a posting, because it takes about eight months to process a background check,” Del Greco said. “We try to keep the postings rolling so that we have a healthy number of people so that if we were to lose someone, we can pull someone in right away.”

The Trump administration has been more broadly focused on recruiting and retaining IT talent in the federal government. Earlier this month, the Office of Personnel Management provided agencies with direct hire authority for IT positions.

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