FBI steps up lie-detector tests in wake of spy case

The FBI will require employees to take lie-detector tests more frequently in response to allegations that a senior counterintelligence agent spied for Moscow for 15 years. At a press conference last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that he and FBI Director Louis Freeh have agreed to step up polygraph tests of bureau agents as a security measure in the wake of the Robert Hanssen spy case. "The [FBI] director and I have agreed that, because of ... the very important consequences of breaches, we should elevate the use of polygraph in certain cases, as it relates to the bureau," said Ashcroft. The FBI already gives polygraph tests to all job applicants and requires additional tests when agents receive higher security clearances. Neither Ashcroft nor Justice Department officials would say when additional polygraph tests would be administered under the new policy. Ashcroft also said that the FBI would change the way it audits access to classified information to catch workers who improperly seek data. He described both this and the expansion of polygraph testing as interim steps that will be studied by William Webster, the former CIA and FBI director who is conducting an independent review of bureau security. The Energy Department dramatically scaled back plans to require lie-detector tests of workers at nuclear weapons labs last year because of controversies over the tests accuracy and necessity. Ashcroft admitted that polygraph tests do sometimes produce false results and that they have an effect on the culture of an agency. Polygraph testing is in error about 15 percent of the time, Ashcroft said. Ashcroft added that the polygraph is not a foolproof method for catching spies. Although experts have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of lie-detector tests, employees at other federal agencies--including the CIA and Secret Service--are required to take frequent polygraph tests. Hanssen avoided taking an FBI lie-detector test when he accepted a transfer to the State Department's Office of Foreign Missions in 1995. The State Department does not require employees to take polygraph tests as a condition of getting access to classified information.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.