Wave after wave of reform of the security clearance backlog system has crashed on bureaucratic rocks. Now government agencies and companies with a need for cleared people are awaiting the launch of the National Background Investigation Bureau. David Berteau, CEO of the Professional Services Council, joins Federal Drive with Tom Temin to offer his take on NBIB.
The Office of Personnel Management says it's spent the past eight years working within the confines of current laws and regulations to modernize the federal personnel system and help agencies better recruit, hire and retain talented employees. But as the Obama administration winds down, OPM suggested that future administrations should more seriously discuss reform to those civil service regulations.
From a massive January snowstorm to a pay raise for all federal employees, we look back at the stories that meant the most to our readers in 2016.
Federal employees and contractors waited hundreds of days in some cases for a security clearance in 2016, but the Office of Personnel Management spent much of the year putting the policy pieces in place for improvement. Key stakeholders in the Performance Accountability Council developed an IT plan for the new background investigation system and issued business rules for adjudicating some cases.
The Office of Personnel Management is behind on its background security checks and retirement claims processing for fiscal 2016. In the agency's financial report, OPM acting Director Beth Cobert pledges a continued effort to make up the difference through a variety of efforts like new contracts and using electronic records.
President-elect Donald Trump's suggested hiring freeze on the federal workforce could have major implications for federal contractors. With possible plans to cut the size of the federal workforce through attrition and retirements, some contractors say industry may have to shoulder more of the workload, since the capability requirements won't change even as government shrinks.
Charlie Phalen has spent four decades in the personnel security business, most recently at Northrop Grumman, and before that, in top security positions at the CIA and FBI.
The four companies awarded contracts for background investigation work are made up of two new faces and two current federal contractors.
Two senators are urging the Office of Personnel Management to share details about the progress — or lack thereof — for the National Background Investigations Bureau. The NBIB is expected to be operational by October 2016.
Agencies are meeting an administration goal to cut the number of federal employees and contractors who need security clearances for their jobs. But the intelligence community is still struggling to process security clearance investigations more quickly.
The Senate wants DoD to handle its own security clearances by 2018.
In a letter to acting OPM Director Beth Cobert, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) say they're concerned the agency doesn't have firm plans for transitioning the federal security clearance process from the old organization to the new National Background Investigations Bureau.
The investigations process is to blame for higher security clearance processing times at the beginning of 2016 and end of 2015. Challenges with culture, resources and legal questions are also pushing agencies farther and farther off schedule in standing up their own insider threat programs.
Congress is skeptic of the Office of Personnel Management's new IT infrastructure project, otherwise known as "Shell," due to previous warnings from the agency's inspector general. OPM's former IG referred to the system as "at risk of project failure." OPM is asking for $37 million to begin planning and migrating old systems to the new infrastructure in fiscal 2017.