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.

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Comments on “After Widespread Cheating, FBI Will Retest Agents On Surveillance Guidelines… With Much Easier Test”

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HothMonster says:

Holy shit, mike you missed the best part:

“The Justice Department?s 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.

cryptozoologist (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

anon says:

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.

Oblate (profile) says:

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.

Thomas (profile) says:

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.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

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?

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