• Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured at DCOS, looks to the National Background Information System, which DISA built and will operate, to advance the country¹s efforts in federal background investigations. Credit: Mike Carpenter
     Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured at DCOS, looks to the National Background Information System, which DISA built and will operate, to advance the country¹s efforts in federal background investigations. Credit: Mike Carpenter
  • Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured with AFCEA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.), at DCOS, looks to the National Background Information System to advance the country¹s efforts in federal background investigations. Credit: Mike Carpenter
     Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured with AFCEA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.), at DCOS, looks to the National Background Information System to advance the country¹s efforts in federal background investigations. Credit: Mike Carpenter
  • DISA recently unveiled the new system it developed and will maintain for the government when performing background checks. Credit: Mike Carpenter
     DISA recently unveiled the new system it developed and will maintain for the government when performing background checks. Credit: Mike Carpenter

High Hopes for New Background Investigation System

June 6, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
E-mail About the Author

The new government-wide system, called NBIS, aims to greatly improve federal background investigations, says DISA’s Vice Adm. Norton.


A new information technology system from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is set to improve how the federal government conducts background investigations.

More than 4.08 million individuals hold a federal security clearance, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Annual Report on Security Clearance Determinations. And it can take federal agencies more than 500 days to process security clearance cases, including background investigations.

The agency that conducts 95 percent of such activities, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) within the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is facing 710,000 unfinished investigations, NBIB Director Charles Phalen reported to Congress this spring.

Leaders hope that the new National Background Investigation System, known as NBIS, will help clear this backlog.

DISA led the development and implementation of NBIS, including designing, building, testing, fielding, operating, maintaining and securing the system. DISA unveiled NBIS at AFCEA’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) in Baltimore last month.

Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director of DISA and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN), explained at DCOS that NBIS uses an integrated case management system with an automated workflow and automatic validation of data from multiple sources. The system will collect and validate submitted information, validate previous security clearance investigations and maintain security, she said.

Users will submit security clearance background investigation application forms through a new interface called eAPP, according to DISA.

“This is going to dramatically improve how our government conducts our background investigations,” Adm. Norton stressed.

Phalen purported that NBIS will help increase efficiencies. In addition to serving as NBIB’s IT system to perform background investigations, NBIS will also be a platform for shared services for the end-to-end processes for all government agencies and departments, he said.

DISA was tasked in 2016 with creating an IT system to support NBIB’s background investigations of all federal civilian employees, military personnel and contractors. NBIS will replace NBIB’s legacy background investigation system.

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