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OIG: FBI’s Handling of Unresolved Polygraph Results May Cause Security Vulnerabilities

The OIG has found that the way the FBI handles unresolved employee polygraph results may lead to security and operational vulnerabilities.

DoJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced that a classified report examining the FBI’s handling of polygraph results in applicant and employee examinations has been submitted to Congress, DOJ leadership, and the FBI. The report focuses on the FBI’s process for investigating and addressing “unresolved results,” or results that found alleged deception or use of countermeasures by the applicant or employee.

A public, unclassified summary of the report’s findings has been released, which found that investigations and adjudications of unresolved results in employee polygraph examinations were often lengthy, taking an average of 357 days. The report also highlighted that the FBI allowed certain employees who were unable to pass multiple polygraph examinations to retain access to highly sensitive information. As a result, some employees were allowed to retain access to sensitive information, systems, and spaces for extended periods of time without the risk assessments that FBI policy requires — potentially posing a security risk. In addition, FBI personnel conducting investigations in response to unresolved employee polygraph examinations did not always share information regarding alleged employee conduct with the FBI office responsible for investigating employee misconduct or with the OIG and the FBI did not fully document or centralize its record keeping of polygraph case information, including, at times, information explaining the test results. Finally, in a sample of 12 cases, the OIG  found that that the FBI did follow its policy of not offering employment to applicants whose initial polygraph or retest examination results were unresolved.

The classified report makes eight recommendations for the FBI to improve the timeliness, consistency, and thoroughness of investigations and adjudications of unresolved polygraph results; to improve the identification and handling of derogatory information developed during polygraph examinations and AIU investigations; and to improve the documentation, tracking, and record keeping of unresolved polygraph results.

“It’s essential that the FBI address, promptly and completely, the vulnerabilities and other issues we identified,” said DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. “To address the risk areas, our classified report made eight recommendations to the FBI, and the FBI agreed with all of them. ”

 

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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