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A new audit from the OPM Inspector General's office reveals shortcomings in the steps taken by Office of Personnel Management and its contractors to make sure background investigations undergo quality reviews. The audit pointed to a lack of oversight on OPM's part in making sure contractors actually review cases and said some of the companies that employ case reviewers failed to keep track of records showing the contractors had undergone proper training.
Ten years ago, the federal government was faced with a crisis in managing security clearances: costly delays and backlogs in performing background investigations. The Office of Personnel Management stepped in and tremendous progress clearing the backlog and meeting strict new timelines mandated by Congress. But some critics now worry too much focus has been put on speed in the process — and not enough attention has been given to quality. In our special report, Questioning Clearances, Federal News Radio examines why efforts to measure the quality of background investigations have stalled.
Less than two weeks ago, a federal judge approved the transfer of the case alleging USIS with improperly conducting thousands of background-check reviews to Washington, D.C. An investigation conducted by the Office of Personnel Management's inspector general remains ongoing. OPM says it has confidence in the reforms put in place by the company.
Agency officials from the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management, along with a handful of other agencies, cited significant improvements in both timeliness and accuracy in the security-clearance program at a Senate subcommittee. The agencies agreed, however, much work remained to maintain that progress and to take on new challenges, such as reciprocity and reinvestigation.
The costs reported by the Office of Personnel Management to conduct background investigations and security-clearance checks for federal agencies have skyrocketed in the past six years, according to a Feb. 28 Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday. But agency customers are growing dissatisfied with the lack of transparency surrounding price increases and are starting to looking elsewhere, GAO auditors said in the report.