House Lawmakers Skeptical of Security Reforms Under OPM
While the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Acting Director Beth Cobert has stated her ambition to have the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) up and running with an appointed director to lead it by October 2016, some members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are skeptical.
The timeline for the new agency would also have an interagency transition team set up by OPM by mid-March, and the Defense Department will start building NBIB’s IT and cybersecurity systems in 2017.
“I just think that’s happy-talk, that’s just dream-world stuff,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said of the NBIB timeline. “We’ve had terrible, terrible problems with just getting basic information up and running. We’re still doing stuff manually. … Interestingly enough, the only things that haven’t been hacked is the stuff we’re doing by hand. I’m sure that’s not intentional, but that just demonstrates the weakness of our system.”
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) also questioned how OPM ability to lead the new security clearance bureau.
“We’re headed for another disaster,” he said. “I’m telling you, you have to take this a bite at a time, you need to get contracts out, you need to get it out of OPM. It is designed to fail. We’ll be back here [in] the next Congress in 2017.”
In his 2017 budget, the President requested $95 million from DoD’s budget to build the new IT systems. Based on the number of background investigations they need, agencies will be charged a fee, and with DoD having the highest quantity, it will pay more for NBIB services than other agencies.
Some members have taken issue with this.
Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) questioned whether the Pentagon would be better off solely handling its own background investigations.
“Now we’re turning back to [DoD], but we’re still going to keep it potentially in a convoluted authority structure,” he said. “This is a defense issue. This is a national security issue, and it still begs the question of whether or not DoD should be involved in its own personnel at all under an OPM structure.”
Posted in General News