Scope of the Position:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an intelligence-driven security and law enforcement agency, and the Director of the FBI is the face of domestic security throughout the nation. The person in this position holds a 10-year term appointment, oversees 56 regional offices throughout the country, and coordinates with other intelligence agencies against domestic and international threats. The Director is charged with directing a diverse workforce of 35,000 special agents and support professionals. In recent years, there has been an initiative to evolve the FBI into a more proactive, threat-driven security agency.

Illustrative Management Challenges:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was rated as the best place to work among federal law enforcement agencies across the country in 2015 by the Partnership for Public Service, beating out organizations such as the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration.1 Yet, there are still areas in which the FBI can improve internally. The FBI could make a more concerted effort to increase the work-life balance of its employees, though the Bureau has already made more resources available, like help from psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and even a chaplain. Secondly, there must be a continued effort to sustain better communication practices at all levels of the organization. The Bureau's Director, James Comey, has made a point of visiting all 56 field offices to talk to employees, assess morale and leadership, and he has prioritized communication both at headquarters and at the field offices nationwide. Lastly, there needs to be an internal initiative to maintain employee job satisfaction, as employees in field offices are less confident that the results of employee satisfaction surveys will be used to make their offices better places to work. The FBI should continue to try to improve in these areas when they can to remain one of the best places to work-if not the best-among all agencies in the law enforcement community.

Strengthening the Cybersecurity Workforce

The FBI, as well as the DOJ as a whole, has taken steps in recent years to increase the strength of its cybersecurity workforce. In October 2012, the FBI requested $500 million for its Next Generation Cyber Initiative (NextGen), which focuses on improving cyber skills for personnel. But even as these steps are taken, the DOJ continues to struggle to grow its cybersecurity team. In a July 2015 audit, the DOJ IG discovered that the FBI failed to hire 52 of the 134 computer scientists that it was authorized to hire. In addition, five field offices lacked a computer scientist assigned to that office's Cyber Task Force.2 So while the FBI has indicated that it is heading in the right direction in regard to cybersecurity, it has a way to go until its deficiencies are fully addressed.


     1Employee Job and Workplace Satisfaction in the Law Enforcement Community; Partnership for Public Service & Deloitte; May 2016.
     2Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Justice;; November 10, 2015.

FBI Directors:

Given the persecutory nature of the FBI, most Directors require strong legal backgrounds and experience as either an attorney or an agent. Many FBI Directors held experience within the DOJ prior to their appointments. 

Current Incumbent:

James B. Comey (2014-Present): Prior to his appointment as FBI Director, Comey had worked in the private sector for a number of years in positions including a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia Law School, General Counsel at Bridgewater Associates, and General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Lockheed Martin. Before that, Comey spent time in the public sector as Deputy Attorney General at DOJ, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and the University of Chicago School of Law.

Previous Deputy Secretaries:

Robert S. Mueller, III (2001-2013): Mueller served as the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco immediately before his appointment to FBI Director. Prior to that he served as an Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. He worked for a time at a private law firm in Boston after serving in several U.S. Attorneys' offices. He began his career by serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Thomas J. Pickard (Acting) (2001): Pickard is currently the Vice President of Corporate Security for the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Pickard began his career as a special agent for the FBI in 1975 and served in a variety of other roles before his appointment to Acting Director in 2001. He retired from the agency after his brief term as Director.

Louis Freeh (1993-2001): Freeh is currently the Chairman of the Freeh Group International Solutions. Before his appointment with the FBI, Freeh was a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991, and previously served as an Assistant and Associate U.S. Attorney for that district. Prior to that, Freeh spent several years as an FBI special agent. He was also a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.