Fewer Agent Transfers Should Benefit the FBI and Its Agents as Well as Save Money

GGD-81-102: Published: Sep 24, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1981.

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In response to concerns expressed by Members of Congress, GAO undertook a survey of agent transfer policies and programs in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The major area of concern and the focus of the survey was the Career Development Program (CDP). A key feature of this program has been to develop managers by providing broad experience in both headquarters and field environments through mandatory transfers. In essence, the program required agents to serve in permanent assignments in both headquarters and field offices in order to be eligible for the next grade level.

In its review, GAO found that the frequent transfers inherent in the program were resulting in severe financial hardship for persons transferred. Another problem which resulted was the fact that filling the vacated positions took an average of 2 to 4 months for headquarters and field positions, respectively. GAO also found that: (1) CDP policy was unnecessarily rigid; (2) more flexibility at certain points in CDP would reduce transfers; (3) other law enforcement agencies use job vacancy announcement systems to fill supervisory positions rather than mandatory transfers; and (4) some CDP positions could be filled with non-agent personnel. As a result of the problems, the FBI has recently announced a number of changes to its CDP which are designed to reduce the number of transfers that managers would have to make and to create more flexibility in filling positions. FBI officials estimate that the number of transfers will decline from about 320 in calendar year 1980 to less than 100 in calendar year 1981, and transfer costs will decrease by about $3 million annually. The full extent of these benefits, however, will not be known until the new policy has been in effect for a while.

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