A new federal agency will soon take over background investigations. The National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) will replace the Federal Investigative Services program in the coming weeks and months. Like its predecessor, the new agency will be responsible for handling security clearance investigations and background checks – a critical function for vetting employees and contractors who will have access to sensitive government information.
Announced by the White House in early 2016, the NBIB aims to:
- Enhance the security of private data, especially in the wake of major hacks that compromised the data of 22 million Americans last year
- Ensure greater accountability when it comes to maintaining cyber security and preventing data breaches
- Address the backlog of pending security clearance investigations
- Modernize legacy systems with more automation and greater efficiency
While the new agency will still be housed within the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), its IT systems will be managed by the Department of Defense. This arrangement will hopefully result in a stronger IT infrastructure – one that’s resistant to cyber attacks.
Fewer delays but increased costs
For many federal employees and contractors, security clearances are necessary to perform their jobs. Yet those seeking clearance currently face delays of up to 200 days, thanks to substantial backlogs.
OPM recently awarded contracts to vendors who will help work through these backlogs. Once in place, the new agency will leverage improved systems to minimize delays.
It’s unclear exactly how this new infrastructure will work, however. Some sources are speculating that the agency will factor in consumer data such as credit scores and predictive analytics to paint a fuller picture of individual applicants.
Along with these improvements, the cost of security clearances is expected to rise in the coming years.