The Obama administration will create a new office to conduct background checks on federal employees, in an effort to improve the security of personal information in the wake of the massive data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management.
The formation of the National Background Investigations Bureau was announced in a blog post on the White House’s Office of Management and Budget’s website, moving the responsibility for governmentwide background checks on would-be and current feds away from OPM’s Federal Investigative Services.
While the NBIB will be housed inside OPM and report to the agency’s director, the backend IT systems will be stood up by the Department of Defense. President Barack Obama has devoted $95 million in his fiscal year 2017 budget to develop a secure IT infrastructure.
“This approach will leverage DOD’s significant national security, IT, and cybersecurity expertise, incorporating security into the fundamental design of the systems, strengthening the security of the data environment and providing robust privacy protections,” reads a fact sheet released by OPM.
The new office is one of a number of results from a long delayed 90-day suitability and security review conducted by the Performance Accountability Council in the wake of last year’s hacks, believed the work of Chinese intelligence. The review was initiated July 9.
A transition team, appointed by the PAC, will move the existing functions of the current Federal Investigative Service to the NBIB, while continuing to provide agencies with investigative services during the transition.
The bureau comes in addition to other background check reforms pushed by the government, including a 17 percent reduction in active security clearances and a five-year reinvestigation requirement for anyone with a security clearance.
A total of 22.1 million current and former federal employees and contractors had their personal information — including in millions of cases fingerprints — stolen from background investigation databases in the two OPM hacks.