The Inspector General (I.G.) from the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is facing challenging issues in managing its language translation workload. The foremost among them is the agency’s staffing and technology problems which has been aggravated by the lack of a statistical reporting system and consolidated information.
The Inspector General found out that since March, 2005, the FBI had lost around 3% of its language experts. This has made the process of hiring and training new linguists tougher and longer – previously the agency required 16 months to hire and train a translator, but now it needs 19 months for the same. The report also states that over 70% of newly recruited linguists do not attend the prescribed training in their first year. Moreover, the FBI was not able to achieve its fiscal hiring goals for 12 out of 14 languages.
These issues have lead to a considerable and growing backlog of unexamined material, including documents and audio files related to terrorism. For the period between 2006-2008, the agency had amassed 46 million files, out of which it could just review 32 million. According to the Inspector General, it was the FBI’s failure to recruit the required number of language translation professionals within the right time-frame that has compromised its ability to manage the increasing workload of translation, as well as review and reduce the present backlog.