Congress

Lawmakers want the latest on new background check agency

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mt.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Sens. Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill have expressed concerns about whether OPM can launch the new National Background Investigations Bureau by October.

Two Democratic senators are concerned about the Office of Personnel Management's ability to execute the planned transformation of the component responsible for background checks for security clearances.

OPM is in the midst of creating the National Background Investigations Bureau, with IT support from the Pentagon, as a replacement for Federal Investigative Services.

"Less than 60 days from OPM's self-imposed deadline, we are deeply concerned that the most basic structures of the bureau -- including an organization leadership chart, physical location or employee credentialing process -- are not yet in place," Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote to OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert in an Aug. 23 letter.

The White House announced the move to create NBIB in response to the massive data breach at OPM in which records and personal information on more than 20 million federal employees, applicants and family members were stolen.

By design, NBIB will collaborate with the Defense Department, and the Obama administration is seeking $95 million in DOD spending to support IT for the new background-check system. DOD is responsible for the "design, development, security and operation of the background investigations IT system" to be used by the new agency, which will be housed at OPM.

OPM recently tapped David DeVries, a DOD deputy CIO, to serve as its top technology official. Both Cobert and DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen hailed the move as auguring a new era of cooperation between the two agencies.

In congressional testimony in May, Cobert said the administration's goal was to have an initial operating capability in place with a leader and organizational design by Oct. 1. Tester and McCaskill want to know if OPM will meet those targets.

The senators are also seeking information on plans for NBIB offices, funding structure, leadership and employee headcount, along with details on the software and mobile technologies that will be used at the new entity.

The lawmakers want answers from OPM by Sept. 6.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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