Under pressure to produce more actionable intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced that it plans to layoff many of its agents and outsource their positions to countries including India, China and Vietnam. The move will enable the FBI to hire three times as many agents at a fraction of the wage that they would earn in the US.
Unemployed agents retraining for service sector jobs
By Cole Walters, staff reporter
WASHINGTON, DC—Last year Chad H. found what he thought was his dream job. The FBI cyber agent couldn’t have been happier with his work, a combination of high-tech intrigue, heart-pumping excitement and plenty of surveillance of teens downloading music files from the internet and other individuals allegedly violating copyright laws.
But last week Chad and hundreds of other FBI agents got the word that they were being laid off. Like thousands of other US employers, the FBI has discovered that firing employees here and outsourcing their positions to countries with lower wages and more relaxed labor standards can generate huge savings. “I’m disappointed. I won’t deny that,” Chad said. “But that seems to be the way that the economy works these days. First it was manufacturing jobs, then high tech, now special agents.”
Same spooks—half the cost
For fiscal year 2006, the FBI submitted a budget request totaling 31,475 positions (including 12,140 agents and 2,745 Intelligence Analysts) and $5.7 billion. The agency hasn’t yet said what percentage of those positions it proposes to outsource overseas, nor has it detailed how the jobs will be divided among the four main countries to which the jobs will be outsourced: India, Pakistan, China and Vietnam.
By laying off agents here and replacing them with workers in other countries, the FBI could save billions of dollars. Currently, special agents enter service as GS 10 employees on the government pay scale and can advance to the GS 13 grade level in field non-supervisory assignments. All special agents qualify for availability pay, which is an additional premium compensation for unscheduled duty equaling 25 percent of the agent's base salary.
Whose side are they on?
But not everyone thinks that replacing thousands of US born special agents with foreign nationals from India, Pakistan, China, and Vietnam is a great idea, despite the fact that the move will generate significant cost savings and enable the FBI to compete on a global stage. Some opponents question, for example, whether agents from other countries would feel the same compunction to uphold the major FBI priorities, including protecting the US from terrorism, fighting white collar crime and enforcing corruption?
“What about when we go to war with China and all of our special agents are Chinese?” says intelligence expert Charles G. Faherty, author of Red Star Rising: Up Against the Great Wall. “That could be a real problem.”
From Special Agent to Sales Associate
For former cyber agent Chad H., however, the possibility of war with China—and being sold-out by his Chinese replacement—is the last thing on his mind. He’s more concerned these days with earning a living. While he has more than a decade of experience in the computer industry, most of those jobs, like the special agent positions, have been shipped overseas.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t qualify for retraining through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA/NAFTA), a program that benefits employees of companies that have been adversely affected by foreign competition but doesn’t apply to government agencies.
For now, says Chad, he’s taking things one day at a time. “It seems like almost every job these days you need to be able to use a computer terminal: cashier, pizza delivery. I’ve got a lot of skills. Hopefully I’ll be able to put them to use again soon.
If you are a resident of India, Pakistan, China or Vietnam and are interested in applying for a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, visit their website and apply today! https://www.fbijobs.com/