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Background Investigations News

Statement by Merton Miller, Associate Director Federal Investigative Services, OPM On GAO Report on FIS Pricing

OPM's investigation reforms are continuing to strengthen national security and drive down government-wide costs considerably. As the GAO has recognized, we have accelerated background investigation operations to exceed aggressive Congressional timeliness mandates and made incredible strides tackling the backlog we inherited- even as demands for the more labor intensive investigations have increased. In fact, our achievements in this area led GAO to remove the security clearance process from its high risk list last year. I'm happy to report today that we've also reduced the time it takes to complete 90 percent of clearances by over 7 percent since GAO released its last report, and by 82 percent since 2005. Our reform standards have ensured greater government-wide consistency in adjudication of background investigations, we have expanded checks of our centralized automated records, our expansion of access to the Central Verification System has allowed agencies to avoid duplicative investigations, and we now deliver investigative reports to agencies electronically. Of course as GAO indicates in this report, these stepped up operations do incur costs. However, GAO's most recent report omits the aggressive cost avoidance and process efficiencies that we continue to realize from these reforms. In fact, OPM estimates that these reforms have already saved agencies billions of dollars in avoided costs. However our efforts to root out additional efficiencies must continue and OPM concurs with GAO's recommendations to increase transparency and seek additional cost savings, and has already begun implementation. Consistent with the recommendation to provide agencies more information about the investigation prices, OPM has briefed customer agencies on pricing and key cost drivers during monthly meetings of the Background Investigations Stakeholder Group (BISG) . OPM has also committed to provide the BISG a quarterly update on trends impacting revenues and expenditures. Regarding GAO's recommendation to seek further cost savings, OPM is exploring expanding automations of investigations-as much as the capacity of our law enforcement and customer partners will allow-and will continue to see savings from expanded use of automated record checks, eDelivery, and increased use of our Central Verification System.

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