Government and security industry officials have been talking about transitioning background investigations from the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to the Defense of Defense (DoD) since last April, and are still waiting for the White House to release the executive order authorizing it to happen. This is a massive undertaking with many components and agencies involved.  The Defense Information System for Security (DISS) has already replaced JPAS, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) National Background Investigations System (NBIS) program office is in the process of moving to the Defense Security Service (DSS), and the investigation backlog is down to 541,000 cases. The last thing remaining is to merge NBIB and the Defense Security Service (DSS) into the new agency responsible for the government-wide security clearance process.

And while an executive order remains in the ‘any day now’ stage, the umbrella agency that will inherit these merged functions does currently exist, and officials with both DoD and NBIB emphasize they are already gearing up for the role the new agency will play.

Entering from stage left…..the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). This new agency will be responsible for personnel security, vetting, and counterintelligence programs. With so many moving parts you can only imagine the challenges of merging two monolithic bureaucratic entities into one. There will be hiccups for sure, but a lot of smart security professional are working diligently to ensure a smooth transition.

Merging Agencies Ushering In Better Technology, Automation

The not very well-known Defense Digital Service is poised to assist in the effort by creating a system that is mostly automated with a few manual checkpoints which will collect an applicant’s information, execute the investigation process and record adjudicative decisions. Also, DISA is spearheading the testing and transition to eAPP, the system that will replace the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP).

Major changes are happening in the security clearance world, and hopefully the end result is getting a clearance in weeks or a just a few months — not years.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.