The Pentagon Is Overhauling the Safety Clearance Course of

That features a hunt for brand spanking new concepts and corporations to do background checks.

The Protection Safety Service is making ready to take over all background investigations for civilian and protection businesses and doesn’t need to inherit stale and probably damaged processes, officers instructed Nextgov.

The Protection Division workplace is at present reviewing white papers obtained by an different transaction authority solicitation looking for progressive strategies for conducting background checks of present and potential federal staff who want safety clearances.

The venture shouldn’t be concerning the know-how behind background investigations course of however quite tips on how to innovate the method itself—from when the SF-86 type is stuffed out to when the clearance determination is made by the company—in response to Tara Petersen, head of DSS Workplace of Acquisitions, and her deputy, Stephen Heath.

“We’re actually wanting broader on the course of itself,” Petersen mentioned. “We’re seeking to prototype a course of.”

“Don’t consider the prototype like a widget,” Heath mentioned. “It’s that complete course of: The place can we enhance on that, the place can we probably save prices, the place can we save time and the place can we convey know-how developments into the method which might be already on the market within the business market?”

After the 2015 knowledge breach of Workplace of Personnel Administration that uncovered the non-public info on greater than 20 million present and former federal staff, background investigation duties have been transferred to a brand new company, the Nationwide Background Investigation Bureau with technical assist delegated to the Protection Division.

However the safety clearance backlog grew to greater than 700,000 and the Authorities Accountability Workplace added the investigations course of to its Excessive-Threat Checklist this 12 months. Congress additionally handed laws final 12 months requiring DSS to take over all protection clearances work at present finished by NBIB. Now, the administration needs to shift accountability for all authorities background checks—protection and civilian—over to the Protection Division. Whereas the lawmakers work that out, DSS is getting prepared.

“The secretary [of Defense] is dedicated to not bringing over a damaged course of,” mentioned Cindy McGovern, DSS chief of public affairs. “He needs to innovate the method, in order that’s what we wish to do.”

To perform this aim, the Workplace of Acquisitions started wanting past the normal authorities background verify firms at present working with NBIB—what Heath known as, “The Large 4.” What they discovered have been quite a few small firms utilizing progressive processes to hurry up investigations utilizing new applied sciences and methods of parsing knowledge units.

Based mostly on that preliminary analysis, DSS determined to make use of its OT authority quite than problem a conventional request for proposals.

Federal and protection businesses and places of work have been turning to OT authorities an increasing number of with a view to pace the acquisition course of and acquire entry to extra non-traditional contractors. Nevertheless, for DSS, the pliability and openness of OT contracts was an added draw.

The Safety Service used its OT authority “primarily as a result of we don’t actually have an thought of what it’s that we would like finished,” Petersen mentioned. “The opposite transaction course of is initiated with principally an issue assertion saying, ‘Right here’s what we’re attempting to perform and we’re in search of concepts on tips on how to accomplish that.’”

In a extra conventional contract utilizing the Federal Acquisition Regulation, DSS would have began with a set of necessities—virtually an answer—quite than opening the issue to the personal sector.

“In a conventional contracting course of, it’s a must to outline a requirement in order that distributors can bid towards that,” Petersen mentioned. “At this level, we actually don’t know what that appears like.”

Petersen and Heath mentioned DSS acquired a “good, stable response” to the solicitation, although they declined to share the variety of responses and mentioned they’ve simply gotten began with the evaluate course of. However each mentioned they have been inspired by the responses.

“We acquired a superb set of responses that we didn’t anticipate due to the best way the business is,” Heath mentioned. “It looks as if, based mostly on our market analysis previous to going this route, that the business is dominated by a pair firms. So, to see the response fee that we did get was pleasing.”

Based mostly on the white papers acquired by the solicitation, DSS officers plan to award a number of contracts to distributors who can develop that course of. The worth of these contracts can be negotiated individually based mostly on the answer being proposed, officers mentioned. There isn’t a ceiling on OT contracts underneath DSS’ authority however the contracts must undergo the conventional Protection Division approval course of.

The Safety Service should be capable of “exhibit a reworked functionality” by Oct. 1, however there isn’t a onerous timeline for shifting past the prototype section, officers mentioned.

In the meantime, the Protection Data Methods Company is utilizing its OT authority to enhance the technical spine of the method, the Nationwide Background Investigations Service. DISA awarded a $49 million OT contract Monday to Virginia-based firm Enterprise, LLC to develop the NBIS case administration system.

“We’re constructing a first-of-its-kind enterprise system that brings collectively the advanced integration of quite a few disparate methods on an unprecedented scale,” making the OT contract a lovely methodology, mentioned NBIS Program Supervisor Raju Shah in an announcement. “We would have liked to listen to from as broad a collection of distributors as doable to know what was doable and be capable of slim to what’s possible.”

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