NBIS says it will deliver continuous monitoring for all customers by December

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The National Background Investigation Services system was initially scheduled to be up and running in 2019.

The Defense Department is poised to make good on plans to supply end-to-end personnel vetting and monitoring services to customers after years of delays, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. 

The Aug. 17 report details the history of hiccups and delays incurred in the long effort to transfer the vetting function to the DOD's Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency in the wake of the devastating 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management. The National Background Investigation Services system, meant to replace all legacy IT systems for personnel vetting, is a key piece to supporting governmentwide reforms for personnel vetting called Trusted Workforce 2.0.

The system was initially scheduled to be fully operational in 2019, but years later, it still faces setbacks, GAO says. The current projection is for legacy personnel vetting systems to be decommissioned by the end of 2024 after initial NBIS capabilities are delivered this fall. 

Completedmajor milestones include the replacement of the system for initiating investigations, e-QIP, with a new electronic application, eApp. Continuous vetting — a major part of Trusted Workforce 2.0 that moves from periodic reinvestigations to regular automated record checks — is currently being supported by legacy systems at DOD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to the report. 

Work also remains for background investigation tools and adjudication capabilities.

DOD has spent about $654 million on NBIS development between fiscal years 2017 and 2022, according to the report. 

Although DOD is officially maintaining existing legacy systems, the agency is also paying OPM for services associated with legacy systems still in OPM’s network until they’re replaced. DOD spent about $835 million to maintain these systems between fiscal years 2020 and 2022 and plans to keep funding their maintenance through fiscal year 2024. 

DCSA plans to use a working capital fund to finance the NBIS program, which charges fees to customers for vetting services, the report states.

The agency is also facing some leadership shakeups and staffing shortages. DCSA’s director, William Lietzau, announced plans to retire earlier this summer. As of March, 37 of the NBIS Program Management Office’s 149 civilian positions are vacant, according to the report.