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Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is getting high marks as the agency responsible for building a better and faster investigative apparatus, clearing the way for federal agencies to grant security clearances to candidates for jobs in national security, law enforcement, medical research and other mission-critical positions.
But the agency responsible for building a better mousetrap also is getting solid grades for utilizing the very system it has developed.
As a result, OPM is near the top when it comes to efficiently moving men and women through the investigations process and from the status of "job applicant" to that of "federal employee," according to data reported to Congress by the Office of Management and Budget. The report includes data for initial investigations of job applicants, as well as for reinvestigations of employees needing clearance updates or upgrades.
"The progress we have made with our own investigations and adjudications means talented men and women are coming on-board with OPM faster and putting their talents and skills to good use for America that much sooner," said OPM Director Linda M. Springer. "OPM is building a better system, and we are using this system to comply with timeliness requirements mandated by Congress."
In 2004, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The act sets specific timelines, dates and goals for OPM and agencies to meet in investigating the backgrounds and adjudicating the suitability of individuals to hold clearances ranging from sensitive to top secret.
Authored by the Security Clearance Oversight Group, OMB's report of activities at 22 agencies notes OPM's high use of e-QIP in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, 87 percent and 96
percent, respectively. The goal set by Congress is 100 percent. e-QIP is a fully automated system applicants use to electronically transmit personal and professional information to OPM, where it is processed electronically, eliminating the time-consuming data input function on both ends.
The report also highlights OPM's speedy adjudication of cases involving OPM personnel. In fy07, OPM adjudicated 80 percent of cases in 18 days, a 10-day improvement over the 28 days needed to adjudicate cases in fy06.
On the macro level for all federal agency clients, OPM is on target to meet the IRTPA requirement to complete 80 percent of investigations within an average 90 days for initial security clearance applications that were put into process at the end of 2006. Under the act, agencies must complete adjudications of completed investigations within an average 30 days for 80 percent of their applicants.
The following is a top-five ranking of agencies in fiscal year 2007, to date, showing the average number of days taken to adjudicate completed background investigations:
Department of Education: 39 days
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.