Security clearance reform efforts have largely focused on Continuous Evaluation (CE) and the role automation can play in security clearance background investigations. One issue that has remained largely unaddressed is the issue of case management. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced yesterday it had begun the first steps toward updating the outdated system used to manage cases today, with a $49 million award to Enterprise Services to develop a prototype for the National Background Investigation Services (NBIS) shared services.
When the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) was created, DISA was given control of the IT portion of the background investigations process. NBIS is slowly implementing reforms to the IT behind the security clearance process. In June, they launched the pilot for a new security clearance application, eAPP. The form is designed to be more intuitive and adaptive than the clunky eQIP.
The contract was awarded as an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). DISA explained its design to use the non-traditional contract vehicle in order to “acquire leading-edge technologies by tapping into a non-traditional defense contractor base.” OTAs are designed for research and prototype activities.
“We’re building a first-of-its-kind enterprise system that brings together the complex integration of a number of disparate systems on an unprecedented scale,” said Raju Shah, NBIS program manager. “We needed to hear from as wide a selection of vendors as possible to understand what was possible and be able to narrow to what’s probable.”
Enterprise Services was a subsidiary of HP, which this June was spun off into a new company, Perspecta, as a part of a merger. The Perspecta merger brings together other key players in the national security and background investigations contracting space – Keypoint Government Solutions and Vencore. Keypoint Government Solutions has served NBIB, Customs and Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security customers.
The OTA will deliver a prototype for a shared case management system. Case management has been an often ignored aspect in clearance reform discussions, as focus has been on CE. But the impact of improved case management may be critical to improving the backlog and increasing the quality and timeliness of investigations.
“If there were only one new system that could be implemented in the next five years to support the background investigations program, the first priority should be on the implementation of a modern, centralized case management system,” wrote Merton Miller, former deputy director of NBIB, in his white paper on the state of the security clearance process. “The current case management system used by NBIB, the Personnel Investigations Processing System (PIPS), severely limits their ability to make important collection, process, procedural, performance, transparency, oversight, and contracting model changes to the background
It’s unclear what the new shared service for case management will look like, but DISA notes the system will take advantage of a Scaled Agile Framework and cloud-based architecture. Like CE, the government is hoping to take advantage of automation in order to increase timeliness, with a system that will optimize the process from initiation through completed investigation.