Testifying at one of the last Congressional hearings he is likely to attend before his September retirement, Mueller said that if Congress does not find a way to keep the government running, it will leave the nation's top law enforcement agency in a lurch.
"Under the current levels in the continuing resolution, the FBI will have to absorb over $200 million in cuts; and without any changes, the current continuing resolution will leave us with over 1,100 vacant positions by the end of the year. Put simply, these cuts would undermine our efforts to continue to transform the bureau and undermine our efforts to carry out our mission."
According to FBI officials, if a budget is not passed the agency will have to operate under 2010 budget levels. Officials say that the 1,100 empty positions would be a mix of agents, analysts and professional staff.
The current FBI jobs website which includes online applications to become an FBI special agent, a linguist or analyst or a member of the elite Hostage Rescue Team is currently frozen. "At this time, federal agencies are operating under a Continuing Resolution with limited funding," says a message on the site. "As a result, the Department of Justice has ordered a temporary freeze on agency hiring. Until the budgetary restrictions are lifted and the FBI has funding to support hiring additional personnel, applications will not be accepted for any positions. Please return to this website for updates to our hiring opportunities. Thank you for your continued interest in FBI employment."
Mueller, who has led the bureau since 9/11, told the committee, "The support from this committee and Congress has been an important part of transforming the FBI into the national security agency it is today. But for our transformation to be complete, we must continue to hire, train and develop our cadre of agents, analysts and staff to meet the complex threats we face now and in the future."
FBI Director Asks Congress for Help
Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about the towering U.S. budget deficit, Mueller said that the bureau is only asking for what it was supposed to get in the 2011 budget. "What we're struggling for is to get what we did not get in 2011 for '12," he said.
The FBI is seeking funds to expand several operations, including the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), and the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force to deal with computer crimes and cyber security issues.
Graham said to Mueller, "You're telling us, the Congress, that due to the threats that are multiplying exponentially, that you need this force to protect America."
Mueller responded, "Yes."
Later Mueller said the budget constraints "would set us back. It is a setback, and we have been moving forward with the help of Congress and the committee and appropriators. And this would stall the progress that's being made."