PMA Update Shows Decrease in Background Check Backlog, but not Security Clearances

The President’s Management Agenda’s (PMA) CAP Goal Action Plan on Security Clearance, Sustainability/Fitness, and Credentialing Reform released June updates that included a reduction in a background investigation backlog. The action plan seeks to sustain a Federal workforce that protects Federal information and property, as well as promoting a safe and secure work environment through an enhanced risk-management approach.

The action plan has made strides in the reducing the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) background check backlog by 40 percent from April 2018 to May 2019—from a high of 725,000 to 433,000.

On April 24, 2019, the President signed an executive order that transferred background investigations from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the Department of Defense (DoD) and through the DoD’s Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, will begin serving as the primary background investigation provider on June 24. DoD has stood up a Personnel Vetting Transformation Office (PVTO) to assist in facilitating this transfer that will be complete by October 1.

While the background check inventory has seen declines in the last year, the security clearance process hasn’t seen the same kind of success. Updated standards for denying, suspending, and revoking Federal credentials are still working their way through OPM. Additionally, security clearance cases (SSC) for Periodic Reinvestigation grew to 441 days to process and Initial Secret security clearances climbed to 181 days to process in the last quarter of the fiscal year.

“To initiate the necessary culture shift across the enterprise, the SSC community must institutionalize and integrate a continuous performance improvement model that will establish outcome-based performance metrics and measures; inform policy, process, and technology with empirical-based decisions; and continuously evaluate its performance and identify efficient and effective ways to perform its mission,” the action plan states.

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