Just as it is set to begin the transfer of authority for background investigations to the Department of Defense, the National Background Investigation Bureau has ramped up its efforts to cut down on the backlog of waiting investigations.

NBIB announced Jan. 28 that it had reduced its inventory of background investigations to approximately 566,725, a nearly 22 percent decrease from the bureau’s peak number of backlogged investigations in April 2018.

“These efforts have had a profound impact on our ability to effectively execute this mission,” said Charles Phalen, director of NBIB. “Our people remain committed, and we look forward to building on the progress we have made to date.”

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 mandated that DoD take over the background investigations process for its own personnel by the last fiscal quarter of 2020.

But the Trump administration’s June 2018 government reorganization plan noted that the White House intends to move the entirety of the background investigation process to the DoD, rather than separate out defense and civilian investigation processes.

According to testimony at a Dec. 12, 2018, House Armed Services Committee hearing, officials at NBIB and DoD await an executive order out of the White House to officially begin the transfer process, though that order has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, officials at NBIB and the Defense Security Service have been coordinating on streamlining the investigation process and preparing the offices for transfer.

Garry Reid, director for defense intelligence, testified at the December hearing that new initiatives, like the increased use of continuous evaluation — which automatically checks employee records rather than waiting for an official, periodic re-investigation — have contributed to the reduction in the investigation backlogs.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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