The old joke used to be the personnel security program was something like a 1947 Chrysler – and while the tires might get changed and you may update a spark plug or two, the overall framework was largely the same. But as the government looks to improve personnel security through the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative, the engine is getting an overhaul, and that means terms that may have rolled off your tongue through the past decade are now being replaced.
Changing clearance terminology is nothing new (can anyone say DISCO?) But staying on top of what’s what – and what’s next – has become more important over the past several years, with changes to cornerstone vetting procedures like periodic reinvestigations. For the record, none of these sunsetting terms are actually going away – you’ll probably still use them (or hear them) for awhile. But if you want to stay in the know, you’ll know these old terms – and their newer counterparts.
Now: Defense Information System for Security (DISS)
The Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) was the security clearance system of record for the vast majority of security clearance holders. But over the past year JPAS has been replaced with DISS, the new security clearance system of record managed by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). The platform is different, the capabilities are different – the headaches are often the same. But any time you’re building a system to manage millions of individuals and records – and particularly when you have to transfer that data and train a whole batch of new users, there will be hick-ups. Leaders are hoping over time DISS will be a more responsive system better able to handle the influx of information that is created under new Continuous Vetting.
2. Periodic Reinvestigations
Now: Continuous Vetting (CV)
Periodic reinvestigations haven’t quite disappeared, and you still may see them used in some cases. As policy and procedure catch up with capability, however, we’ll continue to see CV as the modern answer to maintaining trust with cleared candidates supporting national security work. The very name – periodic – emphasizes the gap in this method of establishing reliability. A lot can change in a short amount of time, and a five-and-ten year investigation interval is no longer sufficient to ensure the workforce is vetted and supported the way it should be.
3. National Background Investigations System (NBIS)
Now: National Background Investigation Services (NBIS)
This one is just a slight tweak in terminology, but one that emphasizes the massive technological overhaul DCSA has overtaken with NBIS (same acronym, so they have that going for them). More than a system, DCSA is rolling out services that will enable CV, record tracking, and background investigations support and case management. Many functions will roll into the new NBIS, taking the personnel security program from that 1947 Chrysler…to…well, I won’t speculate on the model until I take it for a test drive.
Now: Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA)
If you blinked, you may have missed the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) entirely. It was founded in October of 2016 and dissolved in 2019, making way for the DoD to take over the personnel and industrial security mission. It packed a punch in that amount of time, however, establishing the process improvements that helped to reduce the backlog of pending investigations to a record 700,000+ to near steady state before it turned its operations over (OPM did give a 75-year old legacy technology as a parting gift however, which shows there’s always one wedding present you wish you could return but can’t).
If you’ve been waiting for eApp to replace eQIP, I hope you haven’t been holding your breath. We wrote about eApp implementation moving forward back in 2018. Unfortunately the technological issues of overhauling OPM’s legacy system and getting NBIS up and running have meant a slower start date for this mega improvement in the security clearance application process. No one can get around filling out the 100 pages of the SF-86. But hopefully eApp will make it slightly less painful. When will it be online? I won’t speculate (I’ve been wrong too many times), but somewhere, over the OPM sunset rainbow, will be your new digital clearance application process.