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Turnover at FBI hampers cooperation, report says

WASHINGTON -- The FBI has experienced excessive turnover among senior officials, hampering cooperation with state and local authorities since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a new report released yesterday said.

The senior agents who run the 56 FBI field offices average just 15 months in their jobs before moving on to new assignments or leaving the bureau altogether, according to a report by the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration.

At FBI headquarters in Washington, the average posting for high-ranking officials is 13 months, the report said.

The short tenures of special agents in charge of the field offices make ''it difficult for them to perform one of their most important functions, developing effective relationships with state and local officials," said former attorney general Richard Thornburgh, chairman of the panel that produced the report.

It was released at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on changes at the FBI following the Sept. 11 attacks.

No senior executive in Washington and only four special agents in charge have been in their jobs longer than FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who started work 10 days before the attacks.

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