Move over, JPAS – there’s a new acronym in town. The Defense Department recently announced the Defense Information System for Security (DISS) is ready for roll-out this July. The DISS project began in 2008 as a replacement for the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) – the current IT system that tracks DoD security clearance applicants and holders. DISS is designed to meet several requirements of security clearance reform efforts, including reciprocity, automated record checks, and continuous evaluation.
Many of the current security clearance reforms center around improving and enhancing the IT infrastructure that supports the clearance process. This project, which has been in the works for nearly a decade now, comes at a time when the demand for continuous evaluation is at a peak.
In January the White House announced the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) would be taking over the investigations process. The new agency will report to the Office of Personnel Management, but will have its own president-appointed director. The DoD also takes the helm of NBIB’s IT, with a $95 million request to build the new IT systems. NBIB and DISS are just two parts of the ongoing efforts to reform the security clearance process. While NBIB will take several years to be up and running, DISS is set to improve reciprocity and automation now.
“DISS appears to be more robust, flexible and user friendly for the DoD for case tracking and adjudication recording and verification purposes,” writes Marko Hakamaa, a civil servant and security specialist who contributes to ClearanceJobs.com. “It’s also easier for Intelligence Community agencies, Department of Homeland Security components, and law enforcement to tap into the system to find out information regarding counterintelligence or insider threat concerns, alien admission data or citizenship information, and civil, criminal, or other relevant enforcement records.”
Lack of access to online records has been a major criticism of the current system. DISS enables a more robust Automated Record Check (ARC). ARC initial operating capability for selected populations was implemented in 2010, as reported by William Henderson in his annual Security Clearance Year in Review on this site, clear back in 2010. DISS is designed to make ARC both more timely and cost effective.
What does this mean for clearance holders?
DISS, like JPAS before it, is a tool utilized by recruiters and facility security officers to manage clearance investigations and eligibility information. Like before, the average clearance applicant will not have access to DISS – or need to understand how it works. But the implications for the cleared population in the long run are significant. If DISS fulfills its objective to improve reciprocity, usability, and timeliness of back-end processing, those improvements could put cleared professionals to work faster. They could also make it much easier for the cleared population to move into new positions with other agencies.