The agency tasked with building the government's new background investigations system is looking for industry insights on its capabilities.

The Defense Information System Agency unveiled an updated request for information for the National Background Investigation System on April 4, seeking feedback for what capabilities are on the market to help handle the government's background investigation apparatus.

Related: Read the RFI

DISA was tasked with constructing the NBIS in the wake of the 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management that exposed the personal information of more than 21 million federal employees and dependents.

The defense IT agency is working in partnership with OPM and its National Background Investigations Bureau to develop a system that can handle between 2 million and 3 million inquiries a year and will be operated by DISA.

"DISA envisions the NBIS to be a system of systems software solution created from a complex portfolio of components. These envisioned components include a mix of government-owned solutions (GOTS), modified GOTS, customized and modified commercial off the shelf (COTS) solutions and potentially new software components," the RFI said.

The agency said it plans to have NBIS working on an initial operational capability by September 2018, followed by a full rollout a year later. To achieve the timeline, officials said they would likely offer a cost plus fixed fee contract to allow for cyber sprints and agile development.

DISA officials also issued updated answers to industry questions, detailing that the COTS solutions must integrate with GOTS programs like Mirador, Secure Web Fingerprint Transmission and the Defense Information System for Security.

While there is no forecast for a request for proposal, DISA officials said they expect to have a minimal viable product by January developed with a mix of GOTS and COTS components.

The NBIS program will replace OPM’s Federal Investigation System and will be maintained by DISA and used by the NBIB, which became operational on Oct. 1.

Last fall, NBIB Director Charlie Phelan said that the timely processing of background investigations would be the pinnacle task of his tenure, after recent scandals resulted in the cancellation of an investigations contract with company USIS and perpetuated a processing backlog that at one point hovered above 500,000 cases.

The backlog "is not really the relevant number. The real relevant number is 40 or 80," he said. "That’s the number of days we are supposed to deliver either a secret or top secret clearance to somebody we adjudicate.

"Clearly, we are not meeting that. So I would argue that my backlog could be 5 million cases and nobody would care as long as I was still delivering that product in 40 or 80 days. So we are truly focused on what is the timeliness and how can we get back to our standard for getting these background investigations adjudicated. We are absolutely focused on that."

Industry stakeholders have until 3 p.m. EST on April 6 to respond to the RFI.

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