To Protect and To Serve: Bob Garrity ’73

After more than 30 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bob Garrity has pretty much seen it all.

He has traveled the country as an agent, worked on high profile cases, and helped to steer the organization into the highly-technical 21st century. It’s no wonder he’s still excited about the job after all these years.

“I consider myself very fortunate in that even after 30 years of serving as a Special Agent, I still jump out of bed each morning and look forward to going to work,” said the 1973 sociology and psychology double-major graduate. “Like many FBI Agents, I don’t consider this a job; to me it’s a calling.”

Garrity, who currently serves as Deputy Chief Information Officer and Business Progress Reengineering Executive for the FBI, will detail elements of his work when he headlines UMBC’s upcoming Visionaries in Information Technology Forum March 29 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

A Strong Background

Like many UMBC students, Garrity was born in Baltimore. He met his future wife, the former Shirley McPhee ’74, psychology, and her sister, the former Linda McPhee ’74, psychology, during an Eagle Scout ceremony put on by his Boy Scout troop. After graduating from Parkville High School in 1970, he made the choice to attend UMBC based on the small class sizes.

He had hoped to play lacrosse, as well, but the need to work part-time to pay for college and living expenses cut seriously into practice time. Instead, he concentrated on school and work.

“So much for my lacrosse career!” he said.

Following graduation, Garrity attended the University of Baltimore, School of Law. In 1974, he and Shirley married. The following year he earned his law degree, and the year after that entered the New Agents Class at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in public administration while in the FBI.

Thirty Years, Ten Transfers

One of the things about the FBI Garrity most appreciates is the fact that it always keeps him on his toes. Transferring from office to office every few years certainly helps with that.

After training in Quantico, he served in field offices in Savannah and Statesboro, Ga., New York (where he first started dealing with foreign counterintelligence, specifically the Soviet Military Intelligence), Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas, and Jackson, Miss.

In addition to working with counterintelligence against the KGB, Garrity had a major role in shaping policies and procedures following the conviction of former Special Agent Robert Hanssen of espionage. In July 2001, he also oversaw assessment of records management during the latter half of the Oklahoma City bombing trial. He has served in his current position, in which he identifies business practices most in need of re-engineering, since 2005.

“There is an endless amount of variety in the work I have been privileged to perform, and all of it has been exciting, important work,” he said.

“Nearly everything we do has a significant impact on the citizens of this great country. The FBI has an incredibly important and diverse mission, so there is never a dull moment.”

The Future of the FBI

Looking at its nearly 100-year history of intelligence-gathering, Garrity is more than aware of the FBI’s need to stay ahead of the curve. During his talk at the Visionaries event, he will discuss the challenges and opportunities the FBI has faced and will continue to face in a post-September 11th world.

“It is more important than ever that the FBI transform itself from a post-crime, investigative agency to a pre-crime, preventative agency,” he said.

“The whole paradigm of how we operate has changed. It is no longer acceptable to wait for another act of terrorism and then find, arrest and bring to trial the guilty. We must do all that we can, in collaboration with our international, federal, state, local and tribal partners to prevent the next act of terrorism.”

– Jenny O’Grady
Originally posted March 2007

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