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Washington, DC - U.S. Office of Personnel Management Deputy Associate Director Kathy L. Dillaman testified today before the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia on efforts to expedite and consolidate elements of the personnel security investigations program that support issuing security clearances.
Dillaman's testimony for the hearing included a step-by-step description of the federal investigations process and a reiteration of how it is being upgraded.
"Under the terms of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, OPM is required to establish, operate and maintain an integrated, secure, consolidated database of security clearances with information on granting, denial, or revocation of clearance actions pertaining to military, civilian or government contractor personnel," said Dillaman. "OPM's Clearance Verification System (CVS) was built on a flexible platform with ample capacity to expand the content of these records and provide access for authorized users. We are meeting with the clearance granting agencies now to determine what additional data elements are needed as well as the most effective methods for recording these actions and keeping the data accurate and up to date."
When a background investigation is required to support a clearance action, both the subject and the agency must provide the necessary data and forms needed to initiate the investigation. In 2004, OPM implemented "eQIP", a web-based data collection system that streamlines the process of obtaining the subject's background information. Today, 27 agencies use this online system and over 17,000 investigations have been requested electronically. Over the next few months, the number of investigations submitted through eQIP will grow substantially as DOD implements its use for all military, civilian, and contractor personnel.
Describing the demands placed on the investigations process, Dillaman detailed the large number of requests OPM is preparing for. "This fiscal year, OPM expects to receive over
1.4 million new requests for various levels of background investigations from over 100 federal agencies. Over 550,000 of these will be either initial or periodic reinvestigations to support security clearance actions."
In February of this year, the Department of Defense, Defense Security Service Personnel Security Investigations program staff and workloads successfully transferred to OPM, consolidating almost 8,000 federal and contractor resources. OPM is focusing its efforts to ensure that adequate resources remain available to deal with current high volume workloads, and it is working aggressively to expand its contractor base to increase the total number of resources available to conduct investigations.
OPM is also continuing to explore the use of information technology solutions to improve the overall content or timely processing of investigations.
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