As many as 3,300 employees from the Office of Personnel Management’s National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) will be moving over to the Department of Defense by the end of the current fiscal year.
The announcement was made by DoD which said that the move is part of the transition process of moving background investigations under the newly created Defense Counter-Intelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) within DoD.
Employees got two letters, one from OPM informing them of their move to DoD as part of an official and legal “transfer of function.” The second letter came from DoD, welcoming them into the fold.
A senior administration official said, “With the transfer of their jobs, the grade does not change, the workspace does not change, the supervisor does not change except for a few executives, and the pay stays the same. They are just in a different payroll system.”
The official added the move is a valuable opportunity for the employees, stating, “This is not just an NBIB employee opportunity, this is an everybody-in-DCSA opportunity — an opportunity to have a much broader career opportunity within that framework of the security function that DCSA is picking up.”
In early 2018, NBIB had about 725,000 outstanding security clearance investigations underway, “an all-time high,” a senior administration official said. That backlog has dropped to about 410,000, and it is expected it will be down to about 300,000 by the end of the year. The official also noted that about 200,000 ongoing investigations would be considered normal at any given time.
The agency gets about 50,000 to 55,000 new requests for investigations each week, however, many of those are not for secret or top secret clearances, but rather are for lower-level investigations to determine suitability for federal employment.
About 60% to 65% of security clearance investigations are performed by contractor personnel, and that is not expected to change. Additionally, the senior administration official said, there’s no expectation that the new DSCA will need new hires. “The workforce is already there,” the official said.
Language in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directed the government to move responsibility for the lion’s share of handling background investigations over to DoD. President Trump also signed an executive order in April that further directed that all of the investigations be done by DOD.
NBIB employees will officially transfer from OPM to DOD on Sept. 29. By October, it’s expected that every security clearance investigation will be conducted by DCSA, which will be formed from the existing Defense Security Services and the NBIB.