Worried about the quality of background investigations in a post-Edward Snowden, post-Aaron Alexis, post-Reality Winner world? You’re not alone. The cycle hasn’t started yet, but it’s inevitable that congressional scrutiny will soon bear down on the quality of background investigators and how the process may have failed to find the latest leaker.
The same battle cry has been issued over the past five years. And while scrutiny often comes down to the quality of the investigation (the need for electronic records, continuous evaluation, and improved processes), it rarely considers the morale of the investigator.
A thread on the ClearanceJobsBlog relays the all-too-common reality for many investigators:
“I just filled out an employee survey for morale and, if my peers are an indication, not one investigator said I will keep up an exhausting and largely unsustainable pace for more money. No one said I hope I can leave my family for 3 weeks because I can get another $2500 even if it means missing my childen’s summer. Everyone I spoke with said they are overwhelmed and tired.”
“You will be used and abused by any contractor. This industry needs to be unionized so bad it’s not even funny, because we are in no way even remotely close to being on-par with our Federal compatriots like we should be.”
“Things got so intolerable for me as an OPM contractor I just quit. Without a net (except a working spouse). Best move I ever made. Huge burden lifted. I felt like Andy Dufresne breaking out of Shawshank and working on my boat on the beach of Zihuatanejo.”
The National Background Investigation Bureau has made little headway in addressing the 500,000 person backlog, and Top Secret investigations for industry are running 500+ days. Hiring new background investigators to address the backlog is a cornerstone of NBIB’s strategy to bring down the backlog. With continued low morale among current investigators and a reportedly abysmal retention rate, new hires won’t be enough.