National Background Investigations Bureau Launched to Ensure Integrity of Federal Workforce


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 1, 2016, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) was officially launched with the mission of “delivering efficient and effective background investigations to ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of the Federal workforce.”

Housed within the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and headquartered in Washington D.C.¸ the NBIB will strive to improve how the Federal government conducts and delivers background investigations. The NBIB website is at

According to the ‘About Us’ page on the NBIB website, the “NBIB has the responsibility of conducting background investigations for over 100 Federal agencies – approximately 95 percent of the total background investigations government-wide.”

A NBIB Factsheet stated that Charles S. Phalen, Jr. will be the first NBIB Director and lead the organization to deliver modernized background investigations. Phalen was Director of Security for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2007 to 2011.

The Factsheet also stated that the NBIB will absorb the existing mission, functions, and personnel of the OPM’s Federal Investigative Services (FIS) and implement a number of changes designed to improve the background investigations process that include:

  • Enhanced Information Technology (IT) security through continued partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD).
  • Creation of a law enforcement liaison unit to improve criminal history records access and information exchanges in a digitized platform.
  • Creation of a Federal Investigative Records Enterprise (FIRE) to lead the way in automation and management of background investigation records collection.
  • Establishment of a Business Transformation Unit dedicated to transforming business processes to be more efficient.
  • Reorganized field operations to consolidate management of federal and contract field operations.
  • Establishment of a dedicated An Interagency Customer Service Advisory Board (ICSAB) focused on customer service delivery.
  • Dedicated support to NBIB.
  • Consolidating Suitability Executive Agent.

These changes are designed to enhance the delivery of background investigations and support an organization focused on customer service and national security. The NBIB Factsheet is at

As reported by ESR News in August 2016, Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) sent a letter to the OPM expressing concern about the transition of the government background check process from the FIS to the NBIB.

In the letter – a follow up to a first letter sent in May 2016 – Senators McCaskill and Tester wrote they “have seen a flawed background check system severely undermine our national security” in recent years and hoped the NBIB would “strengthen national security.”

In January 2016, ESR News reported the U.S. government had announced the creation of the NBIB to modernize government background investigations, and that the DoD would be responsible for the design, development, and operation of NBIB IT systems.

ESR News also reported in July 2015 that the OPM announced sensitive information including Social Security numbers (SSNs) for 21.5 million people was compromised in a database breach involving background investigations of Federal employees and contractors.

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