With a backlog of roughly 700,000 background checks, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) Director, Charles Phalen, is eager to improve the process of obtaining federal background investigations. The current waiting period for secret clearances/Tier 3 investigations is about four months, and top secret/Tier 5 investigations are taking up to 10 months. To help with the intake side, DoD is developing a new e-application (e-App) to replace the outdated Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) system. And the Army will be testing that soon. “…some of the features we’re building into it will allow us to do some real or near real-time validation of what that individual’s put in, to make sure that what they put in actually exists in terms of addresses, employment, that sort of thing.” Said Phalen.
But it’s not likely that the new apps and modernized systems will make the greatest improvements to the process. The overarching investigative process, originally set in 1947, really needs to be re-examined in today’s world. Defense Security Services Director Dan Payne said, “…that’s the game changer, that’s the thing that can make a significant impact on a security clearance process. We have to take that step, we cannot continue to do things the way we are currently doing them.”
For now, Phalen is also considering the use of more interim clearances at the secret level, and perhaps starting the process for a person’s clearance before they’re officially on a payroll, but ideally he would a new efficient overall system to process investigations more quickly.
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