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Workforce

DDS outlines plans for background check improvement

As the Pentagon prepares to absorb governmentwide vetting and clearance responsibility, the Defense Digital Service is turning to industry for help.

The responsibility of conducting background investigations on prospective government hires is scheduled to be transferred from the from the Office of Personnel Management to the Pentagon. The National Background Investigations Bureau is scheduled to transfer functions, resources, infrastructure and personnel to DOD by the end of fiscal year 2019.

In the meantime, the Defense Digital Service and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence are working on building a prototype system to conduct background checks, and is turning to industry for input.

Taking over security clearance operations "will require significant effort to replace and streamline multiple critical information systems that manage and augment Subject data throughout the process," according to the Defense Digital Service's statement of objectives.

The prototype, DDS states, "will require integration with a wide variety of U.S. government and commercial databases to verify the subject's identity and background information."

The Defense Digital Service is looking for companies to submit white papers describing their technical capabilities, which they will later demonstrate. The award recipient will then, over a series of sprints, build the prototype software, "which addresses the need to consolidate all parts of the personnel vetting and security clearance adjudication process."

The government may then award a contract to "one or more" of the vendors, with a start date to be determined. DDS expects the project to take nine months to build, and expects the cost to stay below $5 million.

As of February, the Government Accountability Office estimated that the security clearance backlog currently sits around 565,000 cases, down from a peak of more than 700,000 in June 2018.

This is not the first time government has turned to industry to improve its security clearance process recently. Last summer, NBIB turned to contractors to submit commercial data in an effort to speed the background checks.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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