OPM Announces New Head of Background Investigations Bureau

(Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The White House Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that Charles S. Phalen Jr. will be the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) starting Oct. 1.

“I appreciate your confidence,” Phalen said. “I appreciate your support. I really look forward to leading this effort.”

The White House announced in January that the NBIB will take over for OPM’s Federal Investigative Services, which currently handles 95 percent of Federal background checks. The NBIB will report to Beth Cobert, director of OPM, but the Department of Defense will oversee all of the bureau’s IT operations.

Charles S. Phalen Jr. (Photo: OPM.gov)
Charles S. Phalen Jr. (Photo: OPM.gov)

The DoD is working to establish the National Background Investigative System, which will take over as the secure, effective, and efficient network that the NBIB will use to conduct its background checks and store its data. On the network, no single person will be able to access all of the data and the DoD will be logging and credentialing all of the data at rest.

“We believe in this partnership and this partnership is the right way forward for the Federal government,” said Terry Halvorsen, the chief information officer of the DoD.

Phalen served as vice president of corporate security for Northrop Grumman from 2011 to 2016, director of security for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and assistant director of the Security Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“He is distinctively qualified for this position,” Cobert said.

President Obama issued an Executive Order on Thursday, which establishes the framework for how the NBIB will operate.

“We now have a more detailed blueprint to guide our efforts,” Cobert said.

NBIB will include a law enforcement division to improve access to criminal history records and digital information exchanges, an office for automation and management of background investigation records collection, a business transformation unit that increases business process efficiency, field operations to consolidate management of Federal and contract field operations, and a customer engagement unit focused on customer service.

NBIB will also have its own dedicated support unit, including a consolidating suitability executive agent, senior privacy official, legal counsel, and communications, congressional affairs, and human resources departments.

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