Lack of Training Source of Poor Performance at Secret Service, Says Panel
Friday, February 13, 2015

An independent panel investigating the recent failures of the Secret Service told Congress on February 12, 2015, that agents were trained at “unacceptable” levels.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson formed the four-person panel in response to Secret Service security failures and morale issues. The panel interviewed hundreds of Secret Service employees and officials, reviewed thousands of documents and talked to hundreds of officials and experts inside of government and out. 

The panel, which issued its initial findings in December, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee the Secret Service that employees are stretched “too thin” and “starving for leadership.” In addition, the resulting decrease in training and increase in forced overtime has hurt the morale of the agency’s workforce. 

Indeed, according to the findings, the average Secret Service agent trained roughly 46 hours in fiscal year 2013, and the average uniformed division officer trained a paltry 25 minutes, down significantly from years prior. 


The data shows that in 2008 there were eight special agent basic classes and seven uniformed division basic classes. By 2011, that number had dwindled to five for six, respectively, and by 2013 each division received just one training class. However, police departments and federal agencies with protective divisions that dedicate anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent of their time to training. 

“We all are in agreement the levels are unacceptably low,” said panel member Danielle Gray, a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers.

This begs the question: How will the Secret Service improve its training—and its performance?


About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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