DISA says funding cut won’t slow new background check system

Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit. 

The Defense Information Systems Agency's 2017 budget included a new line item -- $75 million to start building a new IT platform to replace the Office of Personnel Management's background investigation system. The White House's 2018 budget cuts that line item to $50 million, but DISA says the future funding is sufficient.

In the wake of the 2015 OPM hack that affected more than 20 million people, DISA was tasked with building an entirely new, and more secure, IT system for processing security clearance data.

The system will be used by the National Background Investigations Bureau, which replaced the Federal Investigative Services on Oct. 1, 2016, and the NBIB expects to begin transitioning to the new system in 2018.

A White House budget document outlines the fiscal year 2018 roadmap for DISA's build out of the National Background Investigations System:

"DOD will continue to design, build and field a new Federal Government background investigation information technology system," the document states. "The new system will defend against cyber attacks and improve defensibility. DOD will work and consult with the OMB, DNI and the OPM. This new system will provide a service to the whole federal government, not just DOD."

DISA received $75 million in its 2017 budget to begin the work of building the new system. According to Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, DISA's vice director, the needed funding is in place.

"They're doing some prototyping, some business process reengineering that is probably going to effect in what the final product looks like," she said at the 2017 AFCEA Army IT Day. "But from everything we see now, the current funding is what we need it to be at this point and it looks like the future funding is well aligned also for what this NBIS turns into."

According to the White House budget document, the $25 million decrease in funding is a result of "completion of initial advanced development capabilities and the planned transition to sustainment of initial capabilities delivered in FY 2017."

"Some of the common services have been worked out and they're prototyping some other common services and working on business process reengineering," said Zabel.

"There's so much opportunity now... it means that the future NBIS might be substantially different than the old OPM IT," said Zabel. "Even with that we believe we have the right amount of funding in place."

And, while the "build" funds are projected to continue decreasing in the coming years, the "other program funding summary" in the budget document shows costs listed as operating and maintenance reaching $150 million in 2019 before settling at $120 million for the following years.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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