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“While the Office of Inspector General has identified a number of factors that contributed to problems with the test-taking, nothing excuses the conduct of those who chose not to comply when instructions were clear.”

The FBI also said it was “disappointed with the misconduct described in the report,” but acknowledged some responsibility — saying it did not strictly limit how field offices administered the training and testing.

“While these issues explain some of the OIG’s findings, they do not excuse the conduct of employees who did not comply with clear instructions,” the statement said, adding that the FBI’s office of professional responsibility would “review and adjudicate the facts of cases involving misconduct and take all appropriate action.”

The guide, implemented Dec. 1, 2008, replaced several older sets of guidelines that separately addressed criminal investigations, national security investigations and foreign intelligence collection.

The 258-page document implements the attorney general’s guidelines for domestic FBI operations, the most recent version of which was issued in 2008 by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

The Mukasey guidelines gave the FBI authority to open investigative “assessments” of U.S. citizens without any factual predicate or suspicion, including the authority to use intrusive techniques to surreptitiously collect information on people suspected of no wrongdoing and no connection with any foreign entity.

Shortly after the guide’s introduction, the FBI began comprehensive training on the new guide, including classroom study — after which FBI employees had to take and pass a computerized 51-question exam on the guide.

Written instructions given both before and during the exam specified that employees could use the guide and notes to take the exam, but they were not allowed to consult with other employees.

In addition, Question 51 required all employees to “certify that I only consulted the DIOG, notes or training aids but no other person while taking this exam.”

Mr. Fine said the FBI and his office received allegations that some FBI employees cheated or engaged in improper conduct regarding the exam.

Because of concerns about cheating and assistance given during the exams, contrary to the representations made in response to Question 51, the inspector general’s office initiated the investigation.

He also said that, to its credit, the FBI implemented training and a rigorous exam on the important requirements of the guide, but the conduct of some FBI employees undermined those actions.

“The new DIOG is a fundamental document for ensuring that FBI investigations are conducted according to law and policy, and the FBI appropriately placed a high priority on ensuring that FBI personnel learned and understood the new guidelines through training and mandatory testing,” Mr. Fine said.

“Yet, a significant number of the FBI employees we interviewed cheated on the test and did not comply with the test conditions.”