The 20-day long government shutdown is "hurting" special agents and field operations, according to FBI Agents Association President Tom O'Connor, who held a telephone briefing with reporters on Thursday. Over 5,000 people are furloughed, including special agents, attorneys, technology staff, etc.
He provided three ways the shutdown is specifically affecting the agents' work. One, the dwindling funds could create delays in securing or renewing security clearances. Agents need those clearances to do their jobs.
Two, the shutdown is "restricting tools" available to investigators and slowing operations. O'Connor is hearing concerns from field offices such as how support activity for investigations are under staffed, critical functions that support field operations like the FBI lab in Quantico are working with reduced staff, and there are delays in lab work.
Three, the failure to fund the FBI will "undermine" agent recruitment and retention rates. It may even convince agents to leave their career for another more financially stable one, O'Connor suggested.
Still, the agents will continue to show up to work.
"They’re on the street every day during shutdown working," O'Connor said.
He said he personally overheard an agent on his radio say during a surveillance operation, "were doing this and we’re not getting paid."
The FBIAA represents all 56 FBI field offices and is "the only dedicated voice for the nearly 13,000 active FBI Special Agents," the group's statement reads. They sent a petition to the White House and congressional leaders Thursday urging them to find a solution and "immediately fund the FBI."