Federal Manager's Daily Report

Two senators active in oversight of background investigations for federal employees and others have again pressed OPM for detailed information on the overhaul of that process and an update on the backlog of those probes.

A letter from Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., follows an earlier one in which they said the administration needs to be more specific in its planning and where they raised concerns about the role of contractors in setting up the new agency and in its long-term operations.

OPM and other administration officials announced in January that a new Federal Background Investigations Bureau would be created in OPM to take over responsibilities of its Federal Investigative Services operation while the IT aspects, including cybersecurity, will be shifted to DoD. The action came mainly in responses to the theft of information from OPM’s database revealed last year, but also was a response to years of backlogs that have frustrated both the applicants and managers who have to wait to get new employees on the job.

“In our previous letter we requested information from OPM in order to assess its ability to meet key milestones in standing up the NBIB,” says the letter. “We have yet to receive any of the requested documentation . . .  we are deeply concerned that the most basics structures of the bureau—including an organizational leadership chart, physical location, or employee credentialing process—are not yet in place.”

They added that without close OPM attention to such matters, it is “very likely that the personnel security clearance reform efforts under NBIB will be placed on the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk report due to delays and backlogs in the security clearance process and a lack of basic capabilities to function as an independent entity.”