Congress is skeptic of the Office of Personnel Management’s new IT infrastructure project, otherwise known as “Shell,” due to previous warnings from the agency’s inspector general. OPM’s former IG referred to the system as “at risk of project failure.” OPM is asking for $37 million to begin planning and migrating old systems to the new infrastructure in fiscal 2017.
The investigations process is to blame for higher security clearance processing times at the beginning of 2016 and end of 2015. Challenges with culture, resources and legal questions are also pushing agencies farther and farther off schedule in standing up their own insider threat programs.
In a letter to acting OPM Director Beth Cobert, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) say they’re concerned the agency doesn’t have firm plans for transitioning the federal security clearance process from the old organization to the new National Background Investigations Bureau.
The Senate wants DoD to handle its own security clearances by 2018.
Agencies are meeting an administration goal to cut the number of federal employees and contractors who need security clearances for their jobs. But the intelligence community is still struggling to process security clearance investigations more quickly.
Two senators are urging the Office of Personnel Management to share details about the progress — or lack thereof — for the National Background Investigations Bureau. The NBIB is expected to be operational by October 2016.
The four companies awarded contracts for background investigation work are made up of two new faces and two current federal contractors.
Charlie Phalen has spent four decades in the personnel security business, most recently at Northrop Grumman, and before that, in top security positions at the CIA and FBI.
President-elect Donald Trump’s suggested hiring freeze on the federal workforce could have major implications for federal contractors. With possible plans to cut the size of the federal workforce through attrition and retirements, some contractors say industry may have to shoulder more of the workload, since the capability requirements won’t change even as government shrinks.
The Office of Personnel Management is behind on its background security checks and retirement claims processing for fiscal 2016. In the agency’s financial report, OPM acting Director Beth Cobert pledges a continued effort to make up the difference through a variety of efforts like new contracts and using electronic records.