After Widespread Cheating, FBI Will Retest Agents On Surveillance Guidelines... With Much Easier Test

from the but-any-discipline? dept

A year ago, we wrote about how a report had uncovered that the there was widespread cheating by FBI agents on a test to get them to stop abusing surveillance tools. Apparently, agents passed around the answers to one another, and many -- including the head of the FBI's DC office -- finished in such a short period of time that it was impossible that they actually went through the exam.

While the FBI promised to investigate, it seems like they're now downplaying the results of that investigation, but will now begin retesting agents on their knowledge of the FBI's surveillance guidelines... but this time they're using a much shorter test.

Yes, it certainly appears that the FBI's response to FBI agents rushing through the exam and cheating... is to make the test that much easier.

It's also not at all clear if anyone was disciplined for the cheating, though it certainly doesn't sound like it. If anything, it sounds like rather than recognizing that the agents did anything wrong, the FBI has determined that the cheating just meant that the agents didn't want to spend so much time making sure they understood the rules for surveillance.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    On Cheating:

    Any good spy should be able to pass a test via cheating (and not getting caught cheating!). It's called covert operations for a reason.

    If s/he cannot do so, why on earth should we be paying them to covertly spy on people?!?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    The aren't cheating they are just surveilling the answers. Congress has refused to comment as to whether the FBI has the right to serveille answer without a warrant, so that means they can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Re: On Cheating:

    They are not spys they are goons but your right they should all get fired for getting caught, more so than cheating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    Re:

    If you ask whether they are cheating, that information is classified as a matter of national security. If you ask, then you must be a terrorist for wanting to pry into classified information. Asking what and whether any specific item is classified is also classified.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Yes, lower the standards on the FBI, while raising the standards of education. Does this really make sense?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    Does FIB policy specify an upper limit on the IQ of agents permitted to be accepted?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: On Cheating:

    Lobo, you've watched too much Naruto.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    Holy shit, mike you missed the best part:

    "The Justice Departmentís Inspector General last year found that a number of employees cheated on the open-book test on the DIOG."

    I guess the agency that can't be bothered to follow procedure and not violate our rights also can't be bothered to open their damn book to find the answer.


    and wow, over 14,000 agents cheated. This isn't some bad apples the tree is rotten.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    cryptozoologist (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    this sort of thing is endemic

    when i worked for the government (as a contractor) there were endless training requirements. everyone had to undergo:
    safety training
    operational security training
    computer security training
    counter terrorism training
    laser safety training
    electro static discharge awareness training
    human trafficking awareness training
    security training...

    this list is not at all comprehensive and several of these had to be done more than once a year. every single year. the solution the government came up with is to have a web based briefing with a test. these are time consuming and not necessarily well written and they keep the workforce from focusing on their mission (say, killing terrorists).

    it was not at all uncommon to have someone print out and distribute the web based test with the correct answers circled so the mind numbing task of taking training one has had countless times in the past could be quickly dispatched.

    the problem is that while all of this is actually important for most people in the workforce to be trained up on, the sheer volume and low quality of the training materials very understandably causes everyone involved not to take it seriously. the alternative to the web based training is to have everyone sit in a physical briefing while the junior person on the totem pole gives a canned power point presentation presentation, usually without any real enthusiasm. at least with the web based approach one can fit it in when it is convenient.

    this doesn't even get into the problems that arise when your flash isn't up to date or you are using firefox and the training won't work. or you are using a mac and the training uses some active-x extension and then you have to figure out why you can't take the VERY IMPORTANT training that everybody must complete by close of business or higher ups will be very displeased.

    i have no idea how to solve this but as time marches on, more and more training requirements are added on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: On Cheating:

    :eye-roll:

    Naw, Desert Punk & Angel Beats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    sheenyglass (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    maybe the secret patriot act interpretation Wyden and Udall were upset about was that the FBI could seize test answers without a warrant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:37am

    Re:

    Hoover did a great job in making this the best branch of government ever didn't he?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    > whether the FBI has the right to serveille
    > answer without a warrant

    Is English your second language or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re:

    > Hoover did a great job in making this the
    > best branch of government ever didn't he?

    Sure, except for the fact that the FBI isn't a branch of government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: On Cheating:

    Mind-scroll Technique!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re:

    *surveil an*

    fucking excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Oblate (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    The test isn't actually shorter...

    The test isn't actually shorter, they just changed it so the answer to every question is 'A'. This also helps the FBI to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, as they just need one sticky note for everyone to take the test.

    More seriously, having taken plenty of government training, I can understand why they would be compelled to do this. The online training is often of extremely poor quality, with questions sometime unrelated to any information presented or so poorly worded that it's difficult to determine what exactly is being asked. Some of the courses seem to have no purpose other than to keep the author of the course employed, or to enable someone to fill in a box claiming 'X hours' of training completed. If the training were better prepared, people would probably take it more seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Manabi (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Quite right, the FBI clearly thinks they're above the government, not some mere part of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: On Cheating:

    Pfft,everyone does crack. They ain't nothin'. I do cocaine.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:50am

    But seriously now...

    Can you blame them for wanting to rush through it? There is a guy down on the corner of 5th and 3rd. He is a drug pusher and keeps bringing home these hot chicks like twice a day...how can they not watch that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Cheating

    No one was disciplined for cheating. That's not how it works these days. If testes are failing it means the test is "too hard". So, it has to be made easier so agents can pass and keep their badge. After all, standards are so...icky!

    "Isn't that true 99?"
    "Whatever you say Max."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    Re: this sort of thing is endemic

    Hm... That makes a lot of sense. It would seem Mike's outrage is slightly misdirected though it is warranted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Why do they even bother..

    to test? Isn't it pretty common knowledge that the FBI pretty much ignores laws that get in the way? "Surveillance Guidelines"??? Why do they even bother to test since they ignore it. The FBI and the other government spooks (which I collectively refer to as the Gestapo) consider themselves fully above any laws and any oversight by any judicial process.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Robert Doyle (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Wow

    I see a lot of comments from people who don't seem to have any first-hand knowledge of human nature. Everyone takes shortcuts. Everyone.

    You shouldn't be concerned if the agents cheated on the test - you should be concerned if they actually understood the training. A test doesn't tell you that - it can merely indicate a place to start looking for comprehension.

    The proof would be if the endless statistics gathered showed that after the training the courts found that the agents were following the laws better. If they are, the training worked, regardless of whether they passed or failed the training. If they are not improving, the training failed.

    Don't focus on the test - focus on the outcome of the actual field work, which is the real goal of the training.

    Anyone who trains to take tests is missing the point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: this sort of thing is endemic

    probably some trainings on training for the trainers will straighten it out, ill start training some people on that

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Wow

    "Don't focus on the test - focus on the outcome of the actual field work"

    so you are saying we are right to be appalled?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Well what do you expect...

    When you've got a bunch of lawyers who get to run around with guns?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Well what do you expect...

    Lawyers with guns? Wasn't that a 70's blaxploitation movie?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    I Have To Say ...

    So these cheatards are bypassing the cheating-protection technology? So what should our answer be:

    1) Come up with even more draconion anti-cheating systems, or
    2) Admit that cheating will happen anyway, that any testing model that depends on non-cheating is doomed, make the answers available for free, and find some other way to come up with a sustainable testing model?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, your linguistic pathology goes far beyond that one word. I feel like I need a Rosetta stone to read your posts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: this sort of thing is endemic

    It's a part of the job to do the paperwork.

    If you don't like it, fucking do something about it - blog, tell Mike how much it sucks so he can write columns on it, run for president on a "make the FBI suck less" ticket, SOMETHING . . .

    Cheating on the tests just makes it obvious that these guys care more about "getting through the day" than "protecting our country" -- which includes respecting the constitutional rights thereof.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Wow

    Thinking about the test results make them "upset"; thinking about the actual field work would make them murderous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Wow

    DOH!!! I think you stumbled upon the answer (backhandedly)....

    If the training worked, the agents might (gasp) follow the laws....

    Obviously the cheating material was distributed from the top and read something like this:

    Answer A,B,C,C,D and repeat the pattern (don't ask, just do)

    Ignore anything you might happen to actually read while completing the training session, and please don't share anything you read with anyone, we wouldn't want these things spreading now (lawful guidelines and all)

    You are the FBI, who the hell has the right to tell you that you can't perform Surveillance on anyone or anything you want to?

    Ex wife pissing you off? Wiretap her ass
    Cheating lover? Bug their car
    Hot Swedish swim team in town? satellite their pool

    Just remember our strict, "Don't ask, Don't tell" Policy.

    Thanks for completing your training in a timely manner, and remember, we'll be watching you (and your wife in the shower, just because we think we can).

    Peace Out,
    Director of FBI

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Cheating

    s/testes/testers?

    If their testes are failing, they have more to worry about than some stupid training. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    "While the FBI promised to investigate"

    So let me get this straight. The FBI promised to investigate itself and we're seriously supposed to expect honest results?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Prisoner 201, Aug 13th, 2011 @ 1:27am

    I find that rules only get in the way of getting what you want.

    I can totally sympathise with the FBI and the government on this one.

    I mean come on its going to take forever to get the population under total control if we have to sissy around and follow the law.

    We are already 27 years behind schedule.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    joycemcnulty, Aug 13th, 2011 @ 11:59pm

    fbi surveillance

    The test focuses on reviewing concepts such as respecting privacy concerns and the civil rights of American citizens and making sure that FBI agents understand the revisions made to the DIOG http://bit.ly/pcPrb1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Mike, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 7:01pm

    bullF'nShit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    anon, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 12:06am

    Re: this sort of thing is endemic

    This + 1111111111111111111
    I'm in the army reserves, where we do the exact same kind of "training". It's utter bullshit, and does nothing to educate anyone. I have frequently (without cheating) taken the tests without going thru the powerpoint because the questions are easily guessed. But it doesn't matter that you did it a couple months ago, you have to do it again. It's gotten to the point where most reserve weekends are completely engulfed by the online "training", and we get nothing else done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This