U.S. Government Establishes National Background Investigations Bureau to Modernize and Strengthen Federal Background Checks

 GovtRegulations

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The United States Federal Government has announced a series of changes including the establishment of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to modernize and strengthen the way Federal background checks are conducted and sensitive data protected for Federal employees and contractors.

According to the blog post ‘The Way Forward for Federal Background Investigations’ available on the White House website, the NBIB will absorb the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) existing Federal Investigative Services (FIS) and be headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The NBIB will be housed within the OPM with a mission to provide secure background checks for the Federal Government. The Department of Defense (DoD) will assume responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of Information Technology (IT) systems for the NBIB.

A Fact Sheet about changes to Federal background checks also posted on the White House website outlines the steps the Federal Government is taking to improve the security clearance and background investigation processes for Federal employees and contractors. These actions include:

  • Establishing a new federal entity – the NBIB – to strengthen how the government performs background checks.
  • Leveraging expertise at DoD for processing background checks and protecting against security threats.
  • Updating responsibilities established by Executive Order 13467 to clarify existing roles and assign new responsibilities where gaps may exist.
  • Build on the security measures implemented in response to the cybersecurity incidents at the OPM in 2015.
  • Establish a NBIB transition team transition the management of FIS IT systems to DoD and migrate the existing functions, personnel, and support structure of OPM FIS to NBIB.
  • Drive continuous performance improvement to address evolving threats to ensure NBIB is successful in its critical mission to provide secure background checks.

These steps build on efforts the Obama Administration has taken in recent months through the 30-day Cybersecurity Sprint and the release of the Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Plan to increase the Federal government’s cybersecurity capabilities and protect systems and data government-wide.

As reported by ESR News in July 2015, the OPM announced that sensitive information including Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for 21.5 million people was compromised in a database breach involving the background checks of current, former, and prospective Federal employees and contractors.

The OPM concluded the information stolen from the background check databases included 19.7 million individuals who applied for background check and 1.8 million non-applicants who were spouses or co-habitants of the applicants. More information is available at https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity/.

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