Background InvestigationsSecurity Clearance Process

History of How the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency Came to Be

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) is now the largest and primary security agency in the U.S. Government after absorbing the personnel and responsibilities from the Defense Security Service (DSS) and National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB).  This latest transformation is just one of many over the years. For many of the “old timers” within the security field here is a timeline some may have been a part of:

1953       Civil Service Commission (CSC) was established with responsibility for conducting personnel security background investigations

1965       Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) was established to oversee a centralized security clearance program for 16,000 contractor industrial security facilities

1972       Defense Investigative Service (DIS) is established to centralize and conduct all DoD background investigations

1978       Office of Personnel Management is created and assumed responsibility for civil servant suitability and security programs. As a result, the Federal Investigations Service (FIS) was stood up to conduct background investigations for the Federal government

1980       DISCO is absorbed into DIS in order to streamline the adjudications process

1997       DIS is re-designated as the Defense Security Service (DSS)

2005       DSS transfers background investigation processing to OPM

2016       National Background Investigations Bureau within OPM is established to replace FIS after termination of contract for the primary vendor

2019       DSS is renamed the DCSA and absorbs the NBIB to centralize background investigation processing and industrial security program functions

As a result of the merger, the DCSA has a headquarters office located in Quantico, VA and has 13,500 employees in 167 field locations conducting background investigation and adjudicative functions for 105 government agencies. They also track security clearance eligibility and continuous evaluation vetting for approximately 4.1 million personnel. DCSA anticipates completing the transfer of personnel security data from multiple IT databases into the Defense Information Security System (DISS) by October 1, 2020.