The FBI’s budget has been growing fast ever since 9/11. It went from a two billion dollar law enforcement agency to a five billion dollar international terror-fighting operation.
Now the budget situation has nearly frozen. And the FBI still has hiring authority. How do you manage a collision between requirements and resources? Tom Temin of The Federal Drive had a chance to talk with the CFO of the FBI, Richard Haley, at the Association of Government Accountants conference about the challenges of managing the finances of an agency during tough times.
With an agency as important as the FBI, Haley noted the importance of balancing safety with finances.
“We’re trying to figure out how to continue to keep the country safe through our national security mission with declining resources,” Haley said. “It means that we have to look for savings, look for efficiencies. That’s a cultural change and that’s a pretty big issue right now.”
As far as his role within the agency during this time goes, Haley says it’s important for him to constantly be looking forward.
“It’s looking out, not making bad decisions, not panicing,” Haley said. “It’s making cuts that are then going to come back on key operational issues.
“If you look up CFO of the FBI on Google, you won’t see me. You’ll get 3 million hits, and they’re all related to investigations we’re doing arresting CFOs and arresting other financial entities. Organizationally, we’re the ones putting those people behind bars for committing illegal acts. You want to make sure your organization doing that is sound and financially structured that you’re not going to fall under those same type of problems.
Haley knows that the times have changed and being successful in his role is recognizing that change.
“It’s having the ability to say ‘we’ve got to cut, what’s essential? And what may have been essential two years ago is now a ‘nice-to-have’. Making sure we can carry out those critical missions putting agents on the street, getting our intellegence analysts the information they need to assess where threats are occurring.”
Another one of the challenges for Haley is managing the organization through the continuing resolution.
“We’re cutting everything back from travel to training just like all of the other organizations,” Haley said. “One of the issues we have is because of the growth we’ve had, which Congress and the Administration has been really helpful in getting us the resources, we now don’t have all those resources to cover those personnel costs and cover those operational costs. At this point right now, it’s looking for again, things we can do without.”
While Haley discussed the changes that will have to be made at the FBI, he reiterated that current employees would not be affected but that the future and open positions would be.
“We’re not going to furlough or lay off but we are in a hiring freeze,” Haley said. “We are looking at a gap of about 1,100 positions that we won’t be able to fill because of funding shortfalls and that’s huge.”
“Director (Robert) Mueller will hit ten years (with the FBI) this September and I think one of the advantages of having an executive of the organization over that period of time, you just can’t be successful with the operational agents.”
“You have to have all the infrastructure and all the people that do the back operations and I think there’s considerable concern that even if we can keep our agent numbers up, without the professional staff, without the intelligence analysts that aren’t the agents out there at the tip of the spear, without them we can’t be successful doing our job and that is going to hurt and we’re going to have to figure it out.”