Earlier this year former Deputy Director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, Merton Miller, wrote about the state of the security clearance process. It offered an overview of how we get where we are today. Security clearance reform is back in the news, after years of drama surrounding the security clearance process, including a steadily increasing backlog of cases, growing security clearance processing times, and the creation of a new bureau inheriting all of these problems.
Now just a few months later the security clearance process is preparing for another overhaul, as the Department of Defense prepares to take over the entire background investigations process. The latest announcement from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the agency with oversight of the IT aspect of the process, are the plans to develop a new case management system.
The need to update case management is one of the recommendations made by Miller in his assessment of the process. As the government looks to implement reforms, here are six tips worth considering.
Improve Investigative Technology with a Modern Case Management System
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. 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
The implementation of a modern case management system would give the federal government the capability to reduce the backlog
much more quickly, improve timeliness, reduce costs, and most importantly, reduce the risk to our national security. Security clearance reform today highlights the continued gaps in implementing reciprocity across government agencies. The lack of a modern case management system is responsible for creating many of those gaps.
A modern case management system would allow us to:
1. Increase the operational and contracting model to expand investigative resources, save costs, enhance efficiencies, and target investigator expertise.
A modern case management system would allow workload assignment at the “item” (lead) level opening the door for geographically limited companies to compete for certain “types” of investigative work. For example: a company in Chicago could compete to provide criminal history record information (CHRI) from law enforcement agencies who do not contribute CHRI information to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) or a state-wide system.
2. Increase “End to End” investigative efficiency and productivity.
Increase process efficiency by eliminating current error-prone
manual aspects of the application and case management process by automating data capture, validation, and documentation.
3. Share relevant information across investigative functions.
A robust, scalable and flexible enterprise case management system would capture and share relevant investigative information across functions (field collection, documentation, validation, quality review, documentation, and dissemination) in a safe and secure environment.
4. Ensure investigation accuracy.
A modern case management system would provide automated validation and detection of missing or incorrect investigative information enhancing processing, reducing costs, and ensuring only accurate and complete data enters the electronic investigative record.
5. Improve collaboration, transparency, and customer service for investigative customers.
Enable effective and efficient collaboration across multiple government customer agencies to support investigative submissions, provide near real-time investigative status updates, and notify customer of issues as they develop.
6. Improve data access, compatibility and collaboration.
Promote data portability, collaboration, and allowing information to be viewed by internal and external users with appropriate permissions throughout the investigative and adjudicative process.