At a time when the FBI insists it has transformed itself into an agile force able to blunt the threat of terrorism, the agency is stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire that has left dozens of key posts vacant and more than a hundred agents with little authority in senior supervisory positions, the Baltimore Sun reports. At stake, agents and bureau managers say, is the FBI’s ability to fight the war on terrorism without becoming sidelined by the kind of bureaucratic problems that have dogged the agency for a decade.
In this case, the FBI has not promoted any midlevel manager – from terrorism unit chiefs to assistant special agents in charge, the second-highest field office post – since October, when Director Robert S. Mueller III froze all promotions. The trouble started in the fall when senior FBI officials came to believe they were legally bound to halt all promotions rather than advance people using a system that a court had determined to be flawed. But the root of the problem dates to 1991, when some minority agents sued the bureau over its promotion practices and won. Despite a decade-old court order to overhaul the promotion system, the bureau has been unable to find a system that works. Few expected the system to be shut down for nearly nine months after the freeze.