" Candidates have to undergo personal interviews, medical examinations, "counterintelligence-scope polygraph examination," urinalysis test to screen for possible illegal drug use, and other procedures that the agency finds necessary to meet suitability, security and other educational, technical and work qualifications. (Carland; Faber, 2008); (Richfield, 2007)
Amongst all civilian federal agencies, one of the most recent ones is the Department of Homeland Security -- DHS which deals with Homeland Defense. This agency was created in 2003 by President George Bush as a response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and was meant to deal with security programs and domestic policing. According to the former President, this department was meant to carry out four main tasks: emergency and disaster preparedness, transportation and border security, centralized storage and analysis of potential threat information supplied by other federal agencies, and development of countermeasures for biological, nuclear and chemical warfare. This department was supposed to consolidate 22 agencies from five separate departments. (Editorial Board, WSW. (2002); ("How to Apply for Homeland Security Positions," n. d.) These agencies include the "U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Protective Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Nuclear Incident Response Team, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the National Domestic Preparedness Office and many others." ("History: Who Became Part of the Department?," 2008)
Candidates can view career opportunities at the OPM's USAJobs electronic portal where DHS advertises its posts. These jobs are advertised by salary, job category, location, etc. Since this department combines a wide range of agencies, qualifications and experience vary to a large extent. ("How to Apply for Homeland Security Positions," n. d.) DHS invites applications from people ranging from college students to seasoned experts. Eligible veterans are also recruited for suitable jobs at DHS. Career areas range from law enforcement, security, intelligence, information technology, management, science, engineering, budget, etc. People with disabilities are also encouraged to apply. Such candidates must obtain a certificate from the Department of Veteran Affairs or a State Vocational Rehabilitation Office and apply with the help of special hiring authorities. ("Homeland Security Careers," 2008)
All candidates applying for a Homeland Security job must be U.S. citizens. Diverse and talented students are also offered education as well as employment opportunities at the DHS by way of internships, fellowships, scholarships, co-ops and training programs. The DHS conducts a full background investigation on the candidates apart from other checks like a drug test. Candidates who qualify are called for a face-to-face or telephonic interview by the hiring official or supervisor. In some cases, selection may be done solely on the basis of the application materials. Laws governing the Federal Civil Services govern the selection procedure which makes sure that candidates receive equal and fair treatment during the hiring and selection process. ("How to Apply for Homeland Security Positions," n. d.)
One of the main problems plaguing these agencies in the hiring and recruitment process is the extremely long duration of background checks especially in the FBI. This obviously has resulted in a paucity of sufficient intelligence analysts in these agencies. FBI figures reveal that less than 20% of the applicants eventually make it through the recruitment process. An FBI clearance today takes double the time it used to take a year ago. Currently, the process of background investigation takes 200 to 300 days to complete. This investigation process is lengthy enough to discourage plenty of young people from joining these premier Federal intelligence and other agencies. According to Michael McConnell, national intelligence head, one of the efforts to enhance the security check speed is to consider a kind of risk analysis which moves candidates of value, for example "native language speakers," faster through the recruitment pipeline. (Temple-Raston, 2007)
Another effort to speed up the process can be to collect information by way of data mining personal records like financial information. In case the records are clean the candidate can be hired and another review could be scheduled a year or two later. However, according to experts conducting preliminary checks instead of full background checks could turn out to be extremely risky for the security of the nation. The choices are difficult and have to taken between running the risk of a few, however rare, intelligence penetrations by foreign intelligence recruits and the risk of a serious shortfall of a qualified workforce equipped with cultural and language skills that can help the intelligence and security agencies in winning the war against Al-Qaeda. (Temple-Raston, 2007)
Linguistic analysts like Arabic translators are in huge demand in many of these Federal security agencies. However, bias, discriminatory attitudes and lackluster recruiting efforts in these agencies has resulted in the lack of appropriate and qualified people in the workforce. It has been estimated that approximately 4/5ths of Farsi and Arabic speakers in the U.S. belong to the non-Muslim communities like Mizrahi Jews, Zoroastrians, and Middle East Christians like Copts, Maronite, Syriac, Assyrian Chaldeans, and Orthodox Christians. In addition, there are several Arabic language specialists among Native Americans as well. Several Coptic and Maronite Christians, Syrian and Iraqi Jews, as well as Persian Jews who applied for the post of translator to the intelligence agencies were accorded a cold treatment. The prejudice that only Muslim translators would be able to do justice to the huge amount of intelligence information arising from Middle East has hampered the translation work. As a result, there has been a build up of intelligence information which remains un-translated. It has also led to a shortfall in the assessments and analyses of HUMINT which has hampered the National Security strategies in the war against terrorism. ("Scandal: Bias in Hiring Non-Muslims as Translator Analysts for U.S. Security Agencies," 2007)
The downsizing trend has hit the Intelligence Community as well. Some of the security and intelligence agencies have done little recruitment activities. This has led to a workforce "greening" -- entry of "very young people" and workforce "graying" -- larger number of aged staff. Retired employees of these agencies have not been replaced by analysts with similar capabilities. Another problem in hiring new staff is that these agencies are getting more than enough candidates possessing strong technical and other educational capabilities but low analytical skills. An even greater problem facing these agencies is that they do not have enough empirical basis of finding out exactly how many intelligence analysts would be required to guarantee depth of expertise and breadth of expertise. Being devoid of the capability to track and record the necessary analytic aptitude and know-how across the Intelligence Community, it is a tough task trying to ascertain the overall deficit and gaps in skilled manpower in order of competency or professional specialty. ("Scandal: Bias in Hiring Non-Muslims as Translator Analysts for U.S. Security Agencies," 2007)
The agencies are also witnessing a serious deficit in entry-level analysts at the national level. It is estimated that within the next decade there will be a requirement of around five thousand "technical intelligence-related" personnel in the Dayton region alone. Earlier, this deficit could be met either by poaching from various defense contractors or hiring from the military services in order to meet immediate needs. This old model no longer works now due to various reasons. The military services schoolhouses no longer produce enough analysts to meet the shortfall and poaching results in an increase in personnel costs which results in hiring less than sufficient number of analysts to meet the requirements. Another problem that the agencies face in filling up vacancies with qualified employees is that schools or colleges are simply not trained to provide necessary skills or attitudes to young people who comprise the workforce. There is also a shortfall in candidates possessing "advanced technical intelligence training and education." ("Technical briefing: Spy boot camp," 2009) the only way these agencies can address this problem in recruiting a talented and diverse workforce is to shorten its lengthy hiring procedures, remove bias, if any, and provide specific and advanced occupation-wise training and education to the employees. ("Scandal: Bias in Hiring Non-Muslims as Translator Analysts for U.S. Security Agencies," 2007); ("Technical briefing: Spy boot camp," 2009)
Carland, Maria Pinto; Faber, Candace. (2008) "Careers in International Affairs"
Editorial Board, WSW. (2002) "Bush's new Department of Homeland Defense: the scaffolding of a police state" Retrieved 14 March, 2009 at http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jun2002/bush-j08.shtml
N.A. (n. d.) "Contact the NRO" National Reconnaissance Office" Retrieved 14 March, 2009 at http://www.nro.gov/contact.html
N.A. (n. d.) "Federal Bureau of Investigation -- Strategic Plan 2004-2009"
Retrieved 14 March, 2009 at http://www.fbi.gov/publications/strategicplan/stategicplantext.htm#recruit
N.A. (2008) "History: Who Became Part of the Department?" Retrieved 14 March, 2009 at http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/history/editorial_0133.shtm