National Press Club

FBI agents discuss sequestration budget cuts, furlough impacts at Press Club Newsmaker

December 4, 2013 | By Jennifer A. Ejim |

The National Executive Board of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) spoke on the impact of current budget cuts on the daily operations of the FBI, and other concerns associated with future cuts and furloughs at a Dec. 4 National Press Club Newsmaker event.

The FBI “took some pretty big cuts” that affected active investigations in 2013 and is “going forward on 2014 looking down the barrel of a $700 million cut” to the Bureau’s budget, said Reynaldo Tariche, association president and an active agent in the New York Field Office. The sequestration budget cuts would affect some “mission-critical operational needs,” which would not be met, in addition to forcing the furloughing of agents, he said.

Referring to the report, Voices from the Field, based on the “real-life” experiences of FBI special agents regarding the effects of recent budget cuts on their work, Tariche said FBIAA has “been going to both sides of the aisle, trying to get fully funded” so that they can “do their mission, which is to protect the American people from criminals and terrorist threats.” The workforce of the FBI is “fiercely loyal” to this mission, and was hopeful for a compromise that would allow them fully do their jobs, he said.

Responding to a question about the possible impact of furloughs on ongoing investigations, Tariche said agents could face furloughs that last “from 10 to 15 days in 2014 based on the $700 million cut.” This would have a “drastic impact” on the active investigations going on around the country and around the world since terrorists, cyber-hackers and gang leaders “don’t get furloughed," he said. Their work goes on around the clock and a furlough could lead to missed intelligence since criminal actions do not stop, he added.

Some of the things that could be impacted by the budget cuts include cyber investigations, one of the areas where the FBI tries to stay on the cutting edge and the FBI's unique training, which Tariche called “the tip of the spear.”

The FBI is looking at cutting of up to 3,500 positions, “which would equate to closing several FBI field divisions around the country," Tariche said.

In response to a question from the audience regarding the effect of the budget cuts on the morale of the agents, Thomas O’Connor, FBIAA vice president and an active agent from the Washington Field Office, said the morale is “extremely high,” and the agents are dedicated to their mission of the protection of the United States and the people of the United States.

“The FBI agent is a person that is committed to that mission, and as best the morale can stay, it will,” O’Connor said.

Speaking on the response to their message on Capitol Hill, Tariche said “the message has been received very well on both sides of the Hill,” and they are “hopeful they will come to some sort of compromise.” “If a larger deal doesn't get through, we would ask that we be funded at our full $8.3 billion level.”