Lawmakers negotiating final changes to the fiscal year 2018 defense policy bill retained a provision from the Senate's version of the bill that shifts military-specific background investigations to the Defense Department.
The legislation directs the Pentagon "to take actions by 2020 to allow the Defense Security Service to conduct all personnel background and security investigations adjudicated by the Consolidated Adjudication Facility of the department in order to address the backlog," according to a summary of the conference report released yesterday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Office of Personnel Management's National Background Investigations Bureau currently manages the background investigations for the majority of the government, including DOD, but the bureau faces a backlog of more than 700,000 investigative cases.
The provision in the Senate defense policy bill authorizes DOD to begin a phased takeover of the department's background investigations. Some industry groups have opposed the shift, arguing it will further exacerbate the backlog and impede progress on security clearance reform, while others welcome the move as a way to alleviate the delays industry and government personnel face in obtaining security clearances.
The DSS is ready to begin conducting background investigations for DOD personnel as soon as January, Gary Reid, the director of defense intelligence, told the House Oversight and Government Reform government operations subcommittee last month. DOD plans to use continuous evaluation and automated record checks to speed up the process, according to Reid.