DOD officially takes on background investigations mission, organization

By Justin Doubleday / October 1, 2019 at 5:02 PM

The newly branded Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has officially taken on the background investigations mission with the start of fiscal year 2020.

The National Background Investigations Bureau completed its transfer from the Office of Personnel Management into DCSA, the Defense Department announced today. In April, President Trump directed the transfer of the background investigations mission from OPM to DOD. The process began in 2017, when the growing backlog of background investigations at NBIB spurred lawmakers to allow the Pentagon to take over responsibility for military-specific investigations.

The merger of NBIB makes DCSA the largest security organization in the federal government. The agency, previously known as the Defense Security Service, has four "mission centers" focused on counterintelligence, critical technology protection, personnel vetting as well as training, education and certification, according to DCSA's website.

''Merging the components into one organization will allow us to execute our two core missions: personnel vetting and critical technology protection, underpinned by counterintelligence and training,'' DCSA Acting Director Charles Phalen said in a statement released today.

The background investigation inventory has dipped dramatically over the past year, from a peak of 725,000 cases in April 2018, to 324,000 as of September, according to data posted on the website. The government's goal is a "steady-state inventory target" of 200,000 cases.

DOD officials also want to shift more government employees into a "continuous evaluation" system that they say will allow them to immediately red flag a potential issue with a cleared employee and automate more record checks. As of the third quarter of FY-20, just shy of 1.4 million people were enrolled in DOD's continuous evaluation program, according to