Minority job gains called at risk at NSA, CIA, FBI

September 21, 1994|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Sun Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Women and minorities have only begun to crack the white male bastions of the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, but that progress could fall victim to the congressional budget ax, top agency officials warned yesterday.

"It will be hard to hold on to the gains we made in the last couple of years," Vice Admiral John M. McConnell, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), told the House Intelligence Committee.

"The current rules essentially say, 'last hired, first fired,' " the admiral said.

The intelligence agencies -- principally the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and NSA -- have been under orders from Congress to cut their budgets.

The concerns were echoed by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, who said diversity will be "the first casualty" of budget cuts.

Admiral McConnell, whose Fort Meade-based agency employs more than 20,000 workers, said the current cuts of 700 to 1,000 workers a year have been made through attrition, but the possibility of layoffs remains.

After the hearing, Rep. Dan Glickman, the committee's chairman, said the committee would try to make sure that gains by women and minorities are not sacrificed to tight budgets. "We would hope it would not be the first casualty," he said.

"The Cold War era prevented us from publicly discussing some of the personnel problems of the intelligence community for fear that airing such issues might somehow result in harm to the national security," Mr. Glickman told the agency officials.

"However, with the Cold War over, it is important that these problems be brought to light and corrected."

Each of the agency directors reported progress in the hiring and promotion of women and minorities, although they testified that it would take years before their work forces reflected the population.

CIA Director James Woolsey said that over the past year minority representation at the agency has increased from 14.1 percent to 14.5 percent.

For fiscal year 1994, roughly 21 percent of new hires will be minorities.

Mr. Freeh said that during the past year six of 29 appointed to the position of special agent in charge of the FBI's field divisions have been minorities, three African-American men and three Hispanic men.

Admiral McConnell said that, while he had a target of 33.3 percent minorities among new employees, he surpassed it this year with 38.3 percent.

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