Since Congress could not come to an agreement on the budget last year, an automatic budget sequestration fell like a hatchet into the center of the pie graph leaving almost all federal agencies scrambling to continue to effectively execute their missions in spite of blunt, across-the-board cuts that were only supposed to be an austerity measure, cuts so steep and unthinking that it would never get to that point.
The ripple effects of the sequestration have made headlines before, but most of the attention has been focused on the Department of Defense or DOD, which receives the largest share of the federal budget. Their responses have included furloughing civilian workers and are looking to reduce the perks given to flag officers.
Now, the sequestration has hit an agency whose attention is focused closer to home, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI. Given the dubious success of the DOD furloughs, the FBI is going to follow suit. Since 60 percent of their budget goes towards their employees, the most efficient way to handle it is by closing its headquarters and all offices on 10 weekdays throughout the next year.
James Comey, the newly appointed Director of the FBI, is worried about these cuts because of the “huge impact” to the bureau’s ability to do the work they need to do. The furloughs follow the recent elimination of 3000 positions. In recent visits to field offices, Director Comey has assured agents he would speak out publicly in order to get the government to soften the bureau’s share of the cuts.
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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller warned that these cuts means the bureau will have to move away from investigating organized, violent, and white-collar crimes. Instead they will have to focus all available resources on higher priorities like cyberthreats and national security.