Many FBI field offices face a shortage of forensic investigators and intelligence analysts, as well as tactical intelligence for guiding investigations, the audit found. An estimated 36 percent of FBI field agents assigned to national security-related cyber investigations say they lack the networking and counterintelligence expertise needed to investigate these issues. Five of the 36 agents who were interviewed by the IG investigators admitted they didn’t feel qualified to investigate national security issues effectively.
To compound the problem, the way the FBI trains and rotates field agents could impede an agent’s ability to acquire training and hands-on experience needed to effectively invesitage national security intrusions.
"These offices may not be able to provide new agents with a mentor qualified in the investigation of national security intrusions," the report noted. "Therefore, these new agents may not have the opportunity to complete the on-the-job training elements of the cyber development plan."
The FBI is seeking to alleviate this problem by only selecting agents with “significant” cyber education skills. Another solution proposed by the IG is to not have cyber squads in all offices. Instead, the FBI could create region hubs that allow it to bring together its best cyber agents into a small number of national security intrusion squads that support local offices.
The report recommends that agents on the FBI’s cyber career path could take the recommended 12 core courses out of sequence, a suggestion some in the FBI said they had done before. A FBI agent on the cyber career path is expected to complete the core courses in five to seven years, but some of the key courses aren’t offered until the later stages of the cyber development plan.