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The Government has a responsibility to determine the fitness of Federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, and contractors for the jobs they are hired into and can be trusted in the sensitive work they do on behalf of the American people each and every day. At the same time, we as leaders in Government must work diligently to protect the information these individuals give us in order to verify their readiness.
With these responsibilities in mind, today, the Federal Government announced a series of changes to modernize and strengthen the way we conduct background investigations for Federal employees and contractors and protect sensitive data. These changes include the establishment of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), which will absorb the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) existing Federal Investigative Services (FIS), and be headquartered in Washington, D.C. This new government-wide service provider for background investigations will be housed within the OPM. Its mission will be to provide effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government. Unlike the previous structure, the Department of Defense will assume the responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of the background investigations IT systems for the NBIB.
Today’s announcement comes after an interagency 90-Day Suitability and Security review commenced last year in light of increasing cybersecurity threats, including the compromise of information housed at OPM, to re-examine reforms to the Federal background investigations process, assess additional enhancements to further secure information networks and systems, and determine improvements that could be made to the way the Government conducts background investigations for suitability, security and credentialing.
This review was conducted by the interagency Performance Accountability Council (PAC), which is chaired by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and comprised of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in their respective roles as Security and Suitability Executive Agents of the PAC, and the Departments of Defense (DOD), the Treasury, Homeland Security, State, Justice, Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others. It also included consultation with outside experts.
We are proud of the collaborative effort of the interagency team that helped identify these critical reforms. And we are committed to protecting the security of not only our systems and data, but also the Personally Identifiable Information of the people we entrust with protecting our national security.
We also want to thank the men and women of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services for the work they do every day to provide quality background investigations to agencies across Government.
The Administration will establish a transition team that will develop a plan to stand up NBIB and migrate the existing functions of the current Federal Investigative Service to the NBIB, and to make sure that agencies continue to get the investigative services they need during the transition.
For more information about today’s announcement please go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/22/way-forward-federal-background-investigations.
Developing and retaining the Federal cybersecurity workforce is a top priority for OPM as we work to strengthen our Federal networks and systems and safeguard critical data in one of the most important challenges of our time. But we cannot do it alone.
Across the Federal Government, we are working together to address critical cybersecurity skills gaps and help address the higher education needs of the Federal workforce. To help accomplish this goal, we are leveraging the expertise of higher education partners we have formed alliances with in recent years, including University of Maryland University College and Champlain College.
As part of our broader effort to attract more cybersecurity talent to Federal service, I’m excited to announce the launch of a program that will help us close this critical skills gap. Champlain College’s new Master of Science in Information Security Operations is being offered at a 50 percent discount to Federal employees via the truED® alliance. This 30-credit program can be completed in 20 months, and more accelerated options may be available for highly-motivated students.
This program is one example of how our relationships with our higher education partners are shaping what is being taught in classrooms to develop future generations of Americans who aspire to public service, and inspire new programs designed to ensure that our Federal workforce continues to be high-performing, well-prepared, and well-trained.
The M.S. in Information Security Operations is an advanced program taught by specialists in the field and is designed to marry tactical abilities with strategic expertise at the operational level. This program is also designed to help security professionals advance and hone their ability to successfully prevent, respond to, and mitigate threats. The program delivers hands-on learning that directly applies to the challenges and responsibilities Federal information security professionals face each day.
For more details on the M.S. in Information Security Operations, you may call 1-877-887-3960 to talk to an admissions representative at Champlain College or register to attend one of the free upcoming Federal informational webinars:
Since April 2015 when OPM partnered with Champlain College to provide Federal employees, their spouses, and legal adult dependents access to top-rated, affordable post-secondary education in high-demand fields, nearly 1,000 Federal employees from agencies across government have enrolled in courses through truED.
Champlain College is designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by both the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
I hope Federal employees across government will consider taking advantage of this new degree program and other educational opportunities with our partners.
Today I am in San Antonio talking to members of our nation’s Armed Forces and veterans about opportunities for them to continue to serve this great nation by applying for jobs in the civilian workforce.
As part of the "State of the Union: Cabinet in Your Community" tour, OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert is visiting with veterans and community leaders in San Antonio, TX today.
I want to share an op-ed that appears in today’s San Antonio Express-News and expresses the Administration’s commitment to and support for our veterans.
“Each year, about 25,000 military service members take off their uniforms and settle in the San Antonio/Fort Hood area to make the transition to civilian life. It is up to each of us to honor the men and women who have so valiantly served this great nation by helping make that transition as successful as possible.
As Acting Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, I’m in San Antonio this week to showcase the opportunities for veterans in Federal workforce and to make sure veterans know how to access the resources available to them. I’m meeting with veterans, with organizations that support veterans, and with community and business leaders to talk about the work OPM does every day to help agencies across government live up to the President’s 2009 Executive Order entitled “Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government.”
And, as the daughter of a World War II and Korean War Air Force lieutenant, this effort also is personal for me. I know how much my dad’s experience in the service opened up a whole new world to a kid from Brooklyn and how much his service helped shape his future success.
In his 2015 Veterans Day Proclamation, President Obama called on all of us to dedicate ourselves to honoring those who stepped up to protect us. At OPM, we are taking this mission very seriously.
The President’s Executive Order clearly laid out three objectives: That we honor our obligations to our nation’s veterans; that we use the talents of veterans to help the Federal Government meet today’s dynamic challenges; and that we create a model veterans employment program.
The Executive Order also established the Veterans Employment Initiative and created the President’s Council on Veterans Employment. I’m honored to be the vice chair of that council, which is co-chaired by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.
We have accomplished a lot. In fiscal year 2009, the year the President signed his Executive Order, veterans represented 25.8 percent of Federal employees. In fiscal year 2015, veterans accounted for 31 percent of the total Federal workforce nationwide and 58 percent of Federal employees in San Antonio.
In order to build on our success, in 2016 the Council will focus on women veterans and how to help agencies retain their valuable veterans.
We want to broaden opportunities for veterans across the Federal Government. As part of the Veterans Employment Initiative, OPM created FedsHireVets.gov, a one-stop shopping website for veterans to get employment information. Veterans Employment Program Offices are in place in 24 agencies and the website provides information about how veterans can connect with these offices to learn about career opportunities and how to navigate the Federal employment process.
Veterans bring distinctive training, skills, leadership, and experiences that we need at every agency in the Federal government. An example is the increasing need we have for people trained in information technology and other technical areas.
OPM’s Veterans Services team is here with me this week and will be hosting a workshop to train military members and veterans on techniques for writing a Federal résumé and using USAJOBS.gov, the Federal Government’s main online portal for those seeking Federal employment.
I will continue working with veterans all across this great nation as OPM helps agencies recruit, hire, and retain the military members who choose to continue to serve this great nation following their military service.
Most of all, I want to thank the women and men who made the decision to serve, and those who want to continue to dedicate their efforts to serving their fellow Americans by joining the two-million strong Federal workforce.”
On Monday, January 18, we will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a National Day of Service. As we reflect on all that Dr. King accomplished in his life, I hope we recognize his dedication to serving others and strive to follow in his footsteps. Let us remember that Dr. King not only fought boldly for equality and opportunity for all, he focused on how he could best serve all Americans.
Every day, the Federal workforce fulfills its mission to serve the American people and gives back to communities throughout the nation. Whether it’s donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and household items to food banks all over the country, or donating millions of dollars to charities through the Combined Federal Campaign, Federal employees live up to the challenge Dr. King issued to all of us.
MLK Day builds on that spirit of generosity. It is the only Federal holiday observed as a National Day of Service and is a day when we can all pledge to come together as a tribute to Dr. King’s legacy. He encouraged us to think of others by contributing our time and talents to serving others.
In 1957, Dr. King told an audience in Montgomery, Alabama, that, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Each one of us can help answer his question by pledging to serve next week. And by doing so, we will stand with him and honor his dedication to public service. Visit www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday to find out how you can volunteer to make a difference on the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker to join you on this special day.
In his 2015 MLK Day proclamation, the President said, “As we honor his legacy, Americans across the country will join one another for a day of service, picking up the baton handed to us by past generations and carrying forward their efforts. As one people, we will show when ordinary citizens come together to participate in the democracy we love, justice will not be denied.”
These words echo Dr. King’s philosophy and express the importance and the potential of the National Day of Service.
Let us use Dr. King’s example of service to guide us as we continue to serve. By continuing to make service a part of our daily lives, we can help make Dr. King’s dream come alive.
On this final week of the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign, I want to thank Federal employees all across the government for their generous contributions and campaign pledges, and urge those who have not yet contributed to please consider making a donation.
As we entered the final week, pledges for the National Capital Area campaign totaled more than $39 million. That means this region has met 78 percent of its $50 million goal for this year. We have extended the 2015 campaign here to Friday, December 31 and hope we can end on a strong note this last week of 2015.
Each and every contribution is important. Your generosity helps CFC charities help people in need – in our communities, across this great country, and around the world. In the past 50 years, the CFC has raised more than $7 billion.
And remember, with the universal giving feature you can contribute to any CFC-approved charity in the country in addition to the 4,400 local, national, and international charities that are part of the National Capital Area.
So for those of you who are Federal employees and have not made a contribution to this year’s campaign, I hope you will take a few minutes and go to www.opm.gov/cfc. There you will find information about the CFC, about this year’s campaign, and links to the list of participating charities and the campaign in your area. Please consider enrolling in payroll deduction. No contribution is too small.
And if you are not in Federal service, I hope in you will choose your own way to support the causes you believe in.
I with you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2016!
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