Background Investigations

Little Change Seen From the Field on Security Clearance Investigation Process Improvements

During the House Oversight Committee hearing on security process improvements members heard DoD and OPM Chief Information Officers and the Acting OPM Director present the current “State of the Union” so to speak, on the status of background investigation process improvements. Unfortunately, most of the committee members focused on Presidential authorities and cybersecurity aspects of the process, as noted by Senior Editor Lindy Kyzer on the main site.  In fact, new NBIB Director Charles Phalen did not have much to say or contribute during the proceeding other than a short pitch on the pilot program for the use of social media. Acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan just gave the standard “we have made tremendous improvements over the past year” speech. The highlights from her presentation included:

  • Hiring 400 Federal background investigators
  • Awarding contracts to two additional investigation service providers
  • Policy and process changes
  • Cybersecurity and IT system improvements

Based on word from security professionals at the ground level and comments from applicants on blogs like this site, it appears little has changed since 2015. Interim clearance processing is a shambles, investigation timelines have doubled and tripled, and the NBIB has provided little guidance to security professionals on the way forward. The one aspect of the hearing that I found the most interesting was Chairman Chaffetz and his rant about why the heck the NBIB has not fully implemented social media into the investigative process yet, as well as why the heck they haven’t made providing social media usernames a standard part of the application process. I can hear the the invasion of privacy crowd already. However, isn’t applying for a job that requires a security clearance strictly voluntary? If you want the job, you provide the information and get vetted! Comments on this are welcome, but keep it professional and clean.


  1. I saw an article about NBIB and some other folks (including outgoing DoD CIO) testifying at a hearing on 2 Feb… is this the same event?

    Hopefully if they award more contracts they will structure them so that the bidders don’t have to cut every corner to save half a penny. Throwing more money at a problem doesn’t solve it, but failing to adequately fund the effort is also pointless.

  2. The hearing in its entirety–sorry for potato quality