FBI HR is Everywhere

January 1, 1997
It is the mission of the FBI to uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local and international agencies; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States.

How did you end up with this particular job in this industry?
I've been with the FBI since 1972. This is my ninth assignment. The agency needed someone with operational experience who had directed investigations to oversee the personnel functions. Everything we do in the FBI is designed to support investigations. I bring that perspective to the personnel process.

What is your background?
I have a bachelor's degree in history and a juris doctorate degree. I served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1963. I worked for both IBM and Honeywell Information Systems before joining the FBI. Since being with the FBI, I've been a special agent in charge of an organized crime drug squad, an inspector and legal counsel, among other things. I've been in HR just over 2 1/2 years.

What are the biggest challenges of your industry?
Our jurisdiction is expanding based on the crime problems of our society. Ten years ago, for example, we weren't dealing with World Trade Center bombings or bombings of federal buildings. We have to be responsive to that kind of crime problem, and we structure our whole system to be able to address that in a very responsible way. We're under constrained resources so we have to be innovative and we have to be aggressive.

What challenges do you feel are universal for HR?
Getting more done with less. We're downsizing and reengineering just like the private sector is. So like Corporate America, we're always trying to find the most effective way to do business, to hire the right people, to assign them to the right places, to train them the best we can to make them more effective in discharging their responsibilities.

How is HR viewed at your organization?
Functionally, we're viewed as an integral part of achieving the overall mission. If we're solving a major case or developing a major project, we put our problem-solving hats on and are viewed as a vital part of the process of finding a solution.

What about your job and/or your organization makes you most proud?
Addressing a difficult problem and being able to resolve it in a successful way -- whether it's hiring a certain number of people in a certain amount of time or changing a performance system to more accurately measure and reflect and compensate our employees for the jobs they do. Those kinds of challenges keep me going.

What is "special" about HR at the FBI?
Federal personnel law is regulated by statute. If we're going to hire someone with this job skill they have to be paid X amount of dollars. If we're going to rate somebody on a performance system, these are the principles we must employ, and so on. So we have less flexibility than the private sector.

Workforce, January 1997, Vol. 76, No. 1, p. 90.