A significant number of FBI employees cheated on an exam intended to assess their skills on criminal investigations, national security investigations and foreign intelligence collection, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report released Monday.
When taking the computerized 51-question Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), some consulted with others while taking the exam, others used or distributed answers sheets or study guides that provided answers to the test and some employees “exploited a programming flaw to reveal the answers to the exam on their computers.”
Supervisors — including two Assistant Special Agents in Charge and a legal adviser — were involved in such cheating and almost all of those who cheated falsely certified on the final question of the exam that they had not consulted with others, according to the OIG report.
In addition, some instructors taught to the test during training sessions and gave clues about what would be on the test. Instructors “stomped a foot several times, loudly, when they were covering a question that would be on the exam,” and other instructors would mark their Power Point slides “with attention-getting signals - such as a cartoon character - if the information on that particular slide would be on the exam.”
The FBI found that over 200 employees had completed the exam — expected to take two hours — in 20 minutes or less.
The investigation began in September 2009 after the FBI received an allegation that three top managers from the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO) took the DIOG exam together. The top agent at the WFO, Joseph Persichini Jr., resigned in December. FBI Director Robert Mueller said in July that the OIG investigation was underway.
While the OIG credited the FBI with implementing a rigorous exam on the important requirements of the new guidelines, it found that the actions of some FBI employees undermined those efforts.
FBI employees who cheated should appropriately disciplined, the OIG report recommended, and a new exam should be drafted and disseminated.
The WFO referred calls to the national office of the FBI, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Late Update: FBI Director Mueller has issued a statement on the investigation, stating that personnel actions were taken in cases where misconduct was identified. His full statement:
“An uncompromising commitment to integrity remains the backbone of the FBI workforce. It guides us in every aspect of carrying out our mission to protect the American public. When allegations of misconduct relating to the DIOG testing first came to our attention, we moved quickly to investigate, bringing in the Office of Inspector General (OIG). In cases where misconduct has been determined, personnel actions were taken, and that process continues. We will 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. 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.”
The report is embedded below.