My daughter was terminated by the FBI because they claimed, after 2 offers of employment, flying her to the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and onboarding her as a new employee, that it was all a mistake. This is the story of my daughter’s unbelievable and heartbreaking FBI journey, filled with disappointment and emotional pain. This is actually the story of a career derailed by the Federal Bureau of Incompetence. Why am I telling this tale, rather than my daughter? She cannot tell her own story because documents she signed at the Academy prevent her from telling it. However, I lived it right alongside her and I have signed nothing.
The latest in the Bureau’s series of incompetence
On March 2, 2017, my daughter received an email from the FBI stating, “You have passed Phase III of the Intelligence Analyst Selection Process as well as the background process.” That email was followed by a formal offer letter on March 8, 2017, which stated, “You have passed the IASP, Phase III! You have been selected to fill the position of Intelligence Analyst (IA) with the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation…”. Phase III, by the way, is the final phase of the application process. It includes a review of all qualification standards and suitability, extensive interviews with friends, family and colleagues – both past and present , and basic background and criminal checks.
The final offer letter, issued April 14, 2017 – 37 days later, provided instruction to report to the FBI Academy for training on May 14, 2017. The letter also provided a list of things she needed to bring and some required her to make purchases, which she did. The FBI arranged her air travel.
On Monday, May 15, 2017, her latest FBI-induced nightmare began. A letter, sent first class mail, was received at my home in Arizona from the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Since she was at the Academy in Virginia, I was collecting her mail and I opened the letter. It unbelievably stated:
“…A review and evaluation of your preliminary processing information and/or results of your background investigation, revealed the following suitability concern: Personal Conduct and Miscellaneous Issues. Therefore, a determination was made that you do not meet the suitability standards for FBI employment…”
Preliminary Processing? Did they mean the same processing that she was told she passed on March 2nd? She was now an employee! Not only did she not get this letter when it was issued on May 1st, the FBI apparently sat on it, and subsequently mailed it snail mail on May 10th, where it arrived at my home on May 15th after she was already onboarded and had begun training at the Academy.
Does this seem like an agency that has its act together? What adds to this incompetency is that the Security and Suitability Adjudication Unit Chief, Heather N. Armstrong issued this letter and apparently failed to notify the Training Division at the Academy. Huh? Remember no offer is to be made until this unit signs off on the candidate. So how was the offer made? What changed from March 2nd through May 1st? Most importantly, why was the Training Division not notified on May1st, so they could have stopped her travel to the Academy? What would have happened if she had not shown the class counselor her copy of the letter? Graduate, become an Intelligent Analyst, and after six months be told it was it a mistake?
All this happened while Comey was the Director!
Believe it or not this story is not unique. The FBI has a history of poor treatment when it comes to employment candidates. We know of another Special Agent trainee that suffered from the FBI’s incompetence. This candidate was hurt during training, then sent home to work in a local field office until she was well enough to resume training, except she had to start Academy training from the beginning. Not wanting to complete the 20 weeks of training a 2nd time and unhappy with the atmosphere at the Bureau, she resigned. The Special Agent in Charge at her field office convinced her to stay, and that she had a future with the FBI. Subsequently, she was summoned to a review board in Washington where they cited some minor conduct issues and then terminated her for cause – a big negative for a job seeker.
How it all began
Let’s go back to the beginning so you can see the breadth of the Bureau’s incompetence. My daughter was not a suitability concern when she was first employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in June of 2015. Since then it has been a long, seemingly never-ending series of incompetent screw-ups by the FBI. Perhaps you’ll just dismiss what I say as the angry rantings of a protective father. But perhaps you will read this story to the end and realize that it represents something far greater than one ex-employee’s trip through the gauntlet of the FBI’s administrative arm during the Comey regime.
Round one with the FBI started in June 2015. Having applied for the position of Special Agent and passing three phases of employment processing including an extensive background and suitability check, she entered the FBI Academy as a New Agent trainee. In August 2015, after a few months of training and while in good standing, she realized that she was more the Intelligence Analyst type than the Special Agent type. She decided to resign from the Special Agent program and tried to get transferred into the Intelligence Analyst program. She was led to believe that this shift would not be hard. The personnel at the Academy sent her file to FBI Headquarters, including her supervisor’s recommendation for continued employment with the Bureau, and seemed to think my daughter might be back at the Academy for the September intelligence analyst class. After all, she was hired as a Special Agent, had passed all the Bureau’s testing, and already held the requisite high-level security clearance.
What seemed like an easy switch became a morass of administrative bungling. The FBI treated a simple resignation, accompanied by a supervisor’s recommendation for continued employment, as if it was a dismissal for cause. One of the many insipid comments made to my daughter by FBI personnel, as she continually stressed that she resigned and was not dismissed, was: “Well you dismissed yourself.” They failed to provide her with an SF-50, Notice of Personnel Action, despite repeated requests. She was told over and over that she didn’t have one. An SF-50 is required for every change in personnel status, including initial hire. The SF-50 is the key document needed to apply for all federal jobs. After being told that she could not transfer into the Intelligence Analyst program and that she had to apply as if she were a new applicant to the FBI, she decided to look for employment outside the FBI. During this period between August and November, she communicated with a host of FBI Human Resource types who seemed to all have the common trait of not returning phone calls or emails. This would never fly in the private sector. I guess in government they have no performance reviews to pass in order to keep their jobs. In desperation, she filed a formal complaint to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to get a simple document that should have been quickly forthcoming.
Finally, in November 2015, after months of being in limbo, without an SF-50, a job, or any source of income, the Bureau offered her a job in a field office about 2 hours away from our home. The offer was well beneath her level in experience and skill set. She has an MBA and over 15 years’ experience as a manager. In addition, the salary precluded her from moving and being able to live reasonably once relocated. She declined the position and the Bureau put through her resignation.
She filed for unemployment and was accused by the FBI of not being truthful in her unemployment application. They hired her as a Special Agent and she was given high-level clearance. I’m pretty sure this would not have happened if she had a history of being untruthful. Due to her perseverance and detailed documentation of her communications with the FBI, she was able to beat the FBI’s appeal and receive unemployment benefits.
Here we go again, or round two with the FBI
This entire Intelligence Analyst application process is made up of three phases, with the last phase being a background and suitability check. Having applied for the position in October of 2016, tested in March of 2016, and interviewed in May of 2016, she had completed Phases I and II and part of III. In June 2016, she received a conditional job offer from the FBI for the position of Intelligence Analyst. She passed a drug test, another polygraph exam, and gave her fingerprints – a second time! Then her background investigation began. While working on her background investigation, a former Special Agent doing the east coast part of her background check asked her if she had the contact information of the Supervisory Special Agent who had been her supervisor while at the Academy. It seems that the agent had retired and they couldn’t reach her. Think about this: The FBI could not find a former Special Agent who retired and receives an FBI pension.
Back to the present
On Saturday, May 13, 2017, my daughter flew from our home in Arizona to Washington Reagan National Airport on a ticket booked and paid for by the FBI. The next day, May 14, 2017, she was transported by an FBI arranged shuttle to the FBI Academy located on the Quantico Marine Base. She checked in with a member of the On-boarding New Employees Unit (ONEU), turned in her payroll and other required forms, attended a brief orientation, and picked up the uniforms she would be wearing during her time at the Academy.
May 15, 2017 – While attending the first day of the Onboarding New Employees (ONE) seminar, that infamous letter dated May 1st, postmarked May 10th, arrived in the mail at my home in Arizona. At about 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, I forwarded a scanned copy of the letter and the envelope it came in to my daughter, via email. She immediately contacted her supervisor and informed him of the letter, then forwarded a copy of the letter and envelope to him via email. He told her to continue with the ONE seminar, like normal, and that he would investigate the matter in the morning and get back in touch with her.
May 16, 2017 – She attended Day 2 of the ONE Seminar. She did not hear anything until approximately 3:30 p.m., at which point she was pulled aside by her supervisor and an FBI security officer. They told her that the letter was correct and that it “was a mistake that she was at the Academy.” In shock, she inquired about the email which informed her she had passed the background phase and the job offer letters (March 8 and April 14) she had received. She was told that all of that “was a mistake.”