The FBI still isn’t hiring intelligence analysts fast enough, with one in three positions vacant last fall, the Justice Department inspector general reported Wednesday.

Once hired, too few analysts are assigned to FBI field offices and many reported being asked to perform clerical and other tasks that took them away from intelligence work, Glenn A. Fine said in a 173-page audit.

Fine did say, however, that while many jobs remain unfilled, there are 37 percent more analysts now than before the Sept. 11 attacks. And he said that those hired in the past three years are better qualified and more likely to speak at least one foreign language.

The report is the latest to monitor the FBI’s attempt to step up domestic intelligence gathering to counter terrorist attacks in this country. The FBI faced heavy criticism for its failure to piece together evidence that could have alerted authorities to the Sept. 11 attacks.

A major problem has been the FBI’s inability to meet its hiring goals, partly because the hiring process takes so long, Fine said. The FBI hired less than 40 percent of its goal of 787 analysts by Sept. 30, 2004. The bureau has since speeded up its system of evaluating and checking the background of prospective analysts, he said.

The placement of analysts also raised concerns, Fine said. Just under half the FBI’s 1,400 analysts are assigned to field offices, compared to 86 percent of FBI agents. Maureen Baginski, head of the FBI’s intelligence directorate, agreed that more analysts need to be in the field, Fine said.

One issue repeatedly cited by other reports on FBI intelligence work is that analysts are asked to perform administrative duties that include watching over repair workers and others who lack security clearances or collecting classified trash that has to be burned or shredded.

Fine made 15 recommendations for improvements, including linking the hiring and assigning of analysts to an assessment of terrorist threats. The FBI agreed with all his recommendations, he said.


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