Intelligence Agencies:

Selected Personnel Practices at CIA, NSA, and DIA Compared to Other Agencies

NSIAD-96-6: Published: Mar 11, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed personnel practices at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), focusing on: (1) how equal employment opportunity (EEO) and adverse action practices at these agencies compare with other federal agencies; and (2) whether employee protections at these agencies could be standardized with those offered by other federal agencies.

GAO found that: (1) CIA, NSA, and DIA have EEO practices similar to those of other federal agencies with respect to management, planning, reporting, complaint processing, and affirmative action; (2) in contrast, adverse action practices at the intelligence agencies vary by agency and type of employee, and the internal procedures and associated employee protections at NSA and DIA are similar to those of other federal agencies; (3) although NSA and DIA have statutory authorities to summarily remove employees in national security cases, these agencies' implementing regulations include some basic employee protections; (4) the internal adverse action regulations at CIA also include some employee protections, but the CIA Director can waive all employee protections and summarily remove employees at any time; (5) the external appeals procedures at intelligence agencies differ from the procedures at other federal agencies in that most employees (all but NSA and DIA military vehicles) cannot appeal adverse actions to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB); (6) GAO's review indicated that, with the retention of summary removal authorites, these intelligence agencies could follow standard federal practices, including the right to appeal adverse actions to MSPB, without undue risk to national security; (7) GAO recognizes that Congress is currently studying reforms to these standard federal practices and GAO has testified that some of the practices have shortcomings; and (8) however, GAO sees no justification for treating employees at these intelligence agencies differently from employees at other federal agencies except in rare national security cases.

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