White House Transfers Responsibility for Government Background Checks to Department of Defense

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 24, 2019, United States President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order that transferred the responsibility for federal government background checks conducted by the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The transfer will start no later than June 24, 2019, and finish by September 30, 2019, the close of fiscal year 2019.

“The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 provides that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct security, suitability, and credentialing background investigations for DOD personnel and requires the Secretary, in consultation with the Director of the OPM, to provide for a phased transition to the DOD of the conduct of such investigations conducted by the NBIB” the executive order states.

“This executive order reflects the administration’s commitment to reform the personnel vetting enterprise to ensure a trusted federal workforce and achieve an efficient, effective, and secure operation that meets all government-wide needs for background investigations,” according to a statement from the DOD, which also indicated the transfer of OPM’s background investigation function to the DOD “will begin immediately.”

The DOD will reorganize the Defense Security Service (DSS) to best position the department to assume primary responsibility for the government-wide background investigation mission. The DSS will be renamed the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) and conduct all activities currently assigned to the DSS while serving as the primary entity for conducting background investigations for the federal government.

On October 1, 2016, the NBIB was officially launched with the mission of “delivering efficient and effective background investigations to ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of the Federal workforce,” according to its website. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NBIB and its senior leadership are focused on protecting the national security of the United States and the integrity of the Federal workforce.

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