On March 19, 2024, Christopher A. Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation delivered the annual Getzen Lecture on Government Accountability to a full audience at the historic chapel on the University of Georgia’s north campus.

The Director began by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to address the Georgia community, reflecting on his personal ties to the state where his career in law enforcement began.

“I want to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to be back here in Georgia today,” the Director opened. “This is, as you heard, where my career in law and a few years later, law enforcement really began, and I still consider it home.”

Transitioning to the core theme of his address, the Director highlighted the FBI’s mission of upholding the rule of law and ensuring accountability for those in positions of power. “Our mission at the FBI is a broad one, to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” he asserted. “It includes protecting the vulnerable and holding the powerful accountable.”

Drawing on examples from recent investigations, the Director underscored the FBI’s commitment to investigating civil rights violations and to upholding the rule of law and ensuring transparency and accountability in government. The Director also illustrated the FBI’s relentless pursuit of public corruption, citing a high-profile case involving a corrupt politician in Ohio.

Throughout his address, the Director emphasized the importance of following established processes and maintaining the highest standards of integrity. His message served as a powerful reminder that trust in institutions such as the FBI is contingent upon adherence to protocols and dedication to justice. “It is essential that we follow our processes rigorously every time,” he stressed. “Process is what enables us to say, hey, you may not like the result we reach, but you can’t credibly say we didn’t do things by the book.”

During the question and answer session following his address, FBI Director Wray engaged with Matthew Auer, dean of the School of Public and International Affairs, responding to inquiries ranging from politics to budget concerns and border security. He acknowledged the challenges of navigating political environments but emphasized the FBI’s commitment to following protocol in every situation.

In the conclusion of his lecture, the Director expressed confidence in the FBI’s ability to uphold its mission and emphasized the vital role of institutions like the University of Georgia in fostering discussions on government accountability. “While there will always be people out there looking to exploit their positions of public trust by serving themselves, rather than the American people, with an agency like the FBI on the job, and with institutions like UGA shining a light on why government accountability is so important in the first place…I like our chances.”

To watch the full lecture, click here.

Hosted by the Department of Public Administration & Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs, this annual lecture was established by the generosity of UGA alumni Katherine Getzen Willoughby (PhD ‘91) and Dan Hall Willoughby, Jr. (JD ‘86) in honor of her parents, Evangeline Sferes Getzen and Forrest William Getzen, lifelong advocates of public service and education.