Q&A with OPM's Kathy Dillaman

The Office of Personnel Management has expanded its international investigative capabilities to keep up with increasing demand for security clearances. Kathy Dillaman, associate director of the agency’s Federal Investigative Services Division, recently testified that OPM sent 360 agents abroad in 2007 and closed more than 24,000 international leads for new employee clearances or periodic reinvestigations of current federal employees and contractors.

Federal Computer Week sent Dillaman an e-mail message with questions about security clearances, and her office replied with these responses:


FCW: How is international coverage done with the 360 agents abroad?

DILLAMAN: When international coverage is required due to a subject’s activities abroad, the actual location is identified and agents are dispatched to countries where we can provide coverage. Often the activities abroad are related to employment or duty with the Defense Department, and the necessary interviews and record searches are conducted in DOD facilities. If the activity that requires coverage is not related to official U.S. government employment abroad, the State Department supports the gathering of records maintained at the embassies.


FCW: Is it cheaper for OPM to build connections to state records systems than it is to buy public record services from a LexisNexis, for example? Can a LexisNexis provide quicker turnaround times at a lower cost or is the answer unknown at this point?

DILLAMAN: The most thorough, cost-effective way to obtain needed information varies by location. If it is determined that a commercial provider can obtain and provide the same level of information available from a direct connection between OPM and the state agency, timeliness and cost would be deciding factors.


FCW: How extensive is OPM’s direct keyboard access to state records systems?

DILLAMAN: Currently, OPM has online access to statewide law checks for 12 states, and seven additional states will be added this year. When fully implemented, approximately 45 percent of the needed checks will be done through direct access.


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