FBI Director: 'I'm Looking to Hire 1,000 People' by October 1

By Susan Jones | March 31, 2014 | 10:16 AM EDT

FBI director-nominee James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill on July 9, 2013.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(CNSNews.com) - FBI Director James Comey, on the job for only six months, says he's ready to "restock" the "magic" of his agency with a hiring spree:

"I'm looking to hire 1,000 people to start to fill those almost 2,500 vacancies that we have -- hundreds of special agents and intelligence analysts to restock that magic of the FBI, which is our talent."

Comey told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week that he hopes to complete the hiring by October first.

He blamed the sequester for putting his agency under stress. "Everywhere around the country, I heard from my folks about the difficulties they were encountering with vacancies, with limitations on gas, with the abolition of training, with Quantico being a ghost town. And thanks to this committee and other members of the Senate and the House, that changed in late January when the budget was passed."

The FBI's Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal requests $8,347,201,000 in direct budget authority, including $8,278,219,000 for salaries and expenses (for 34,970 permanent positions and 33,327 full time equivalents). The request also includes almost $69 million for construction.

Subcommittee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) called the budget request a "bargain."

"I think it's a bargain for what we get for $8-billion. I  mean, think of the magnitude of the number of agents and analysts, the support staff; 60 places around the world; 56 field offices here. But your request really goes to people. You know, it's not a big plane. It's not a big aircraft carrier."

Comey said the FBI needs to hire those 1,000 people quickly because "the plate of threats we face is remarkable." He said the agency's top priorities are counter-terrorism, including prevent a WMD attack; counter-intelligence; and criminal challenges, the latter ranging from public corruption to civil rights to white collar crime, gangs and human trafficking, and protecting children.

"And we're doing that in 56 field offices all around this country and in offices all around the world every day," he said. "My hope for 2015 is to be able to sustain the progress we've made since late January; restock the talent of the FBI; and march out to meet those many challenges."