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Column: Ex-FBI Official Mike Mason Says Investigating Cheating Would Be Waste of Time and Money; Better to Re-Administer Test

Mike Mason/fbi photo
Mike Mason/fbi photo

Michael Mason, a former assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, retired as the executive assistant director at FBI headquarters in 2007. His column is in response to the Justice Department investigation into whether potentially  hundreds of FBI agents cheated on an open book test on a computer they took without supervision. Some may have worked with others or gotten answers in advance, a violation of FBI policy.

By Michael Mason
For ticklethewire.com

I was reading your blog today and wanted to respond to the issue about the testing problem at the FBI.

I sincerely believe it would be a complete waste of time and money to further investigate the potential of additional cheating on the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) examination.

Whereas I do not condone cheating, the objective of this “test” was to ensure all agents and analysts had a thorough understanding of the rules of the road according to the DIOC.

Failure was not an option.

As such, employees who failed the test were required to re-take it until they achieved a passing grade. Rather than go through an unnecessarily long and deliberate investigation to determine who else may have cheated, why not simply re-administer the test, under controlled conditions, to the entire relevant employee population.

I was formerly responsible for running the Washington Field Office and retired as an Executive Assistant Director of the FBI, so I am completely familiar with size and scope of this recommendation.

There would be a need for multiple test dates in each field office and other logistical requirements which are by no means beyond the ability of smart people to arrange.

There will undoubtedly be howls of protest from employees who did not cheat in the first place, but that is a relatively small price to pay to resolve this issue and to give the assurance that the test has been correctly administered to everyone.

Further adding to the need to think a bit differently here is that no inquiry will identify everyone who may have cheated.

Is not a controlled administering of the test a simple, straightforward manner of getting to the aforementioned objective of ensuring that all who pass the DIOG examination have done so without any unauthorized assistance?

I hope this matter will not be used as simply another opportunity to embarrass the Bureau. Sometimes external investigations are required, regardless of the consequences.

However, this is categorically not one of those times. There is far too much important work to be done by the FBI to have the entire agency distracted by this “investigation.”


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