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New Agency to Manage Security Clearances

Last week, the Administration announced the creation of a new agency to handle background investigations and the security clearance process for federal agencies, employees, and contractors.

The new agency, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), will absorb the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) existing Federal Investigative Services (FIS), and be headquartered in Washington, D.C. as part of OPM.

OPM’s FIS currently conducts approximately 95 percent of federal background checks.

The decision to create a new agency to handle the security clearance process stemmed from recommendations of an interagency 90-Day Suitability and Security review that began after the OPM data breaches.

The NBIB’s “mission will be to provide effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government,” according to the announcement that came from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert, DOD Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, U.S. Chief Information Officers Tony Scott, and Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator J. Michael Daniel.

“Unlike the previous structure, the Department of Defense will assume the responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of the background investigations IT systems for the NBIB,” according to the announcement.

Pentagon officials are quoted in Nextgov describing how the IT systems for NBIB will be developed.

A fact sheet with additional information entitled “Modernizing & Strengthening the Security & Effectiveness of Federal Background Investigations” can be accessed here.

The Administration will ask Congress in its fiscal 2017 budget for $95 million to bolster the government’s cyber defenses.

While, Administration officials provided an upbeat assessment of the proposal to launch the NBIB, some on Capitol Hill viewed the development differently.

“Simply creating a new government entity doesn’t solve the problem. The administration needs to undertake meaningful reforms to protect citizens’ most sensitive personal information. Protecting this information should be a core competency of OPM, the government’s human resources agency,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in a statement. “Today’s announcement seems aimed only at solving a perception problem rather than tackling the reforms needed to fix a broken security clearance process.”

Posted in General News

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