Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

“Establishing a New Federal Entity to Strengthen How the Government Performs Background Investigations. OPM’s Federal Investigative Services (FIS) currently conducts investigations for over 100 Federal agencies – approximately 95 percent of the total background investigations government-wide – including more than 600,000 security clearance investigations and 400,000 suitability investigations each year. As part of the reforms being announced today, the Administration is establishing a new government-wide service provider for background investigations, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), which will assume this mission and absorb FIS. NBIB will concentrate solely on providing effective, efficient, and secure background investigations for the Federal Government. NBIB will report to the OPM Director, but unlike the previous structure, DOD will assume responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of the background investigations IT systems for the new entity. Additional changes include: the head of NBIB will be Presidentially-appointed and a full member of the PAC; NBIB will receive policy direction and guidance from and be accountable to the PAC and its customer agencies for providing continuous improvements to the investigative process; NBIB will be headquartered in Washington D.C., which will allow for enhanced coordination with its interagency partners; and NBIB will have a dedicated senior privacy official to advance privacy-by-design as the new entity is stood up and new IT systems are developed. A cadre of interagency personnel will help stand up the new entity and be part of its ongoing management, and NBIB will leverage existing expertise, resources, and a well-established framework for providing government-wide services.”

Not sure they thought the name through. National Background Investigations Bureau? A quick google search shows a private company in existence since 1995 called the Background Investigations Bureau (BIB) and another private company called National Background Investigations. Doesn’t lend a ton of legitimacy and not a great choice of a re-brand if you ask me. Wonder of the job titles are going to change (special agent/ special investigator).

I think this is moving in the right direction. I’m guessing that the plan is to eventually move NBIB out of from under OPM and make it an autonomous federal agency. It will still have large input from DoD, DHS, et al., but will be separate and independent. Much like the JTTF. NBIB needs to be a lot more streamlined and nimble, unlike the large, bureaucratic HR-centric entity what preceded it. I envision an agency which could provide streamlined and much simpler guidelines as to how investigations are to be conducted rather than decade-old handbook modeled after the IRS tax code. This will allow investigations to become largely investigative, rather than 95% box-checking and fretting about coverage requirements and report formatting.

Btw, I agree with Contractor on the name. Using National in the name will cause confusion with a private company and does not sound like a federal agency. Using Federal would have been better but I’m sure the FBI put the kibosh on this name.

Because we do get quite a bit of direction from the DNI, why not make it a sub agency of that? We don’t need to be a direct member of the IC (obviously) but we need to be part of an agency with a lot more credibility. As long as we are a part of OPM there is going to a black mark against how we are perceived.

I also agree with contractor. NBIB is bad, very bad. It sounds like a chain of used car dealerships, nothing that screams credibility.

I don’t see why we could not be Federal Investigative Services once we are removed from under OPM, because so few even know we are already part of OPM’s FISD.

DOD is a great first step in terms of modernizing and making our IT systems more secure.

Next step, overhaling how contracting companies (not individual contractor investigators) are paid, not per case but by the man hour to remove the churn and burn of cases. Get rid of the pressure to make revenue goals by just speeding through cases.

Management is pushing production harder than ever, so much so, instead of finding more efficient ways to do the job, they just changed the performance metrics to squeeze out more productivity.

It’s going to be 2008 all over again, everyone is going to burn out, quality is going to fall and then they will be spinning ‘work-life balance’ as the way forward. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Overhauling how contracting companies are paid is a major step.
I have seen prior contract applications and have seen how OPM stacked the deck forcing the contractors to underbid the contract making it next to impossible to make money unless corners are cut.
OPM has also set the only DOL Wage Determination in the nation that does not adjust Background Investigators minimum salary by region. The BI salary is the same in Manhattan, KS as it is in Manhattan, NY. This also forces the companies to cut salaries for the KS BI to make the NY BI salary livable.
This is the problem with keeping OPM in the business as OPM is also a for profit organization charging other agencies for their work. There is no difference between OPM and KGS, CACI or any other contractor.
OPM has to force underbidding in order to keep their justification to use contractors.
OPM pays their agents at least 40% more than the average contractor employee gets and that is not counting the better benefits.
OPM could not keep within their budget if they did not use contractors.

Production requirements have ramped up in a ridiculous way. They require the same volume of work but have changed the value given to each item. So the items are worth less but the work expectation remains the same. And no one is talking about it. I find that strange.

Contractor what are the new stats per item? ESI / Personal / Record? What contractor are you with?

Whoever at KGS was involved in signing their most recent contract negotiations where they gave away the house needs to get off whatever drugs they were on. The increase in the financial penalties is Ridiculous and I do not see any other government contractor getting taken like that before. It is why you are seeing so many internal reopens.

Contractor is right, it is the same thing I posted, they have new metrics on the fed side too.

Same work, less credit given, squeeze more production.


I suspect KGS is using ex-USIS as most of their new management came from them.
I still have the 2011bids from
The proposals submitted were:
CACI $3,487,337,338
OMNI $3,416,100,384
KGS $3,327,770,340
USIS $3,094,835,069

OPM forced a rebid stating all were too high.
CACI $3,404,386,497 (-82.95 MIL)
OMNI $3,987,168,290 (+571 MIL)
KGS $3,293,329,643 (-34.44 MIL)
USIS $2,709,826,194 (-385 MIL)

Draw your own conclusions but it looks like OMNI bowed out saying that OPM wanted an unreasonable contract. CACI & KGS tried but USIS under bid so much that USIS could not stay in business without fraud.

I dont know how the current bid process is progressing but if what MDCONTINV says is accurate, KGS is going down the same road as USIS. Maybe they want to make as much money as possible before their boat sinks too.

While I’m not an accountant, I think they could federalize all the FTE’s of the contractors, streamline investigations a little bit, and end up actually saving money. And all of the federal BI’s of OPM-NBIB in the whole country would still be a fraction of the number of employees in only one ring of the Pentagon or the TSA employees at the 6 largest U.S. airports. The only downside I see is to contractor company executives (cue the world’s smallest violin, please).

NBIB? Really?

I am a Special Investigator retained by the National Background Investigations Bureau? I’m sure that is going to help our call back rate or door hanger call back rate when we try to contact people. Sounds real legit, doesn’t it (sarcasm)?

The government needs to have a title for an agency that brings “clout” and will help in the cooperation with what we need to do to get the work done. NBIB like everyone else has said sounds like a used car website. I wonder if they issue us new credentials, with no metal badge on the front, and with Federal Investigative Services taken off of the badge as well. That would be a mistake but it appears FIS is no longer going to be involved in this work.

I was having difficulties with people understanding who OPM was anyways when I would introduce myself…it’s going to get worse now in my opinion with cooperation of Sources and record providers.

This industry never ceases to amaze me how poorly it is operated and the people making these decisions at OPM. Not to mention that the oversight committee had a real opportunity to make significant and positive changes to the industry as a whole and they totally dropped the ball when this new agency absorbs FIS.

Interesting article…

@Joe Hackett

Name changes can be useful.

Sources pre-2015:
“Hi, I’m a special investigator retained by the Office of…”
Source: “So, why have I not heard of this agency?”

Sources 2015 and later:
“The Privacy Act of…”
Source: “So, what you’re saying is the Chinese can have access to everything I say, right?”

NBIB is a terrible choice of names/acronym. They need to enlist some Madison Avenue firm to come up with a better name. It’s all about branding.

If someone flashed me a badge with National Background Investigation Bureau on it, I’d think he bought it from the back of Bounty Hunter Monthly magazine.

@dcinv Yeah - How believable is it when you tell a neighbor “I am a Special Investigator retained by the National Background Investigations Bureau.”
How long will it take for you to explain that you are from an actual USG agency.
Typical decision making by someone who does not have a clue what life is like outside the beltway.

I kind of hope they bring on Kathy Dillaman to head up the new agency. At least she gave a rip about the program.

And I agree, NBIB is a stupid name.

I’ve been in this business for a very long time and I truly love what I do and the I feel very strongly about the mission. Since we are on the cusp of a new era, here’s what I’d like to see happen (one can dream, right?):

  • new name that evokes a sense of respect from the community (not NBIB, I actually think that’s worse than OPM, even without the stigma of the breach).

  • consolidate ALL federal background investigation functions under this agency, to include the agencies that currently do their own. If necessary, have additional suitability questions for those agencies that also screen for suitability but use the same guidelines for the basic investigations.

  • Update the almost ten year old handbook and make the work less complicated. There are way too many moving parts and things to remember about different case types, follow up, investigations. Investigations can have similar requirements but added coverage depending on increase in clearance level. Be consistent on the timeframes covered

-Do away with the SF-85p. All it’s doing at this point is adding a ton of extra fieldwork as a result of the new Tier system.

  • revamp the Tier ideas. They are great in theory but are way too complicated in practice. If this, then that but only if this… Too much to try and remember in an already complicated business. No one should have to reference a 110 page guide to perform an investigation.

  • I know the SF86 was updated in 2010. It still kind of stinks. Update it again with better instructions and a better, more user friendly way of filling it out online. Set it up so that dates can’t overlap without a required comment from the subject to explain the overlap and so that it recognizes different geographic locations in relation to employment and residence, again requiring a comment from the subject.

  • do away with the strict production requirements and allow investigators to do their jobs correctly and thoroughly. Allow them the time they need, without it affecting stats, to really delve into the issues without it adversely affecting their production. The current system is so flawed in that investigators are essentially punished (by the hit on their stats or by the money they can earn as a 1099) for taking the time to truly dig deep.

  • increase the fed pay by one grade (instead of 7/9/11/12 it really should be 9/11/12/13 with the SAC’s being 14’s). The contractor side also pays too low to increase profits- I think some start under $40k per year- and the contractor side really doesn’t require much in terms of experience. Last I heard it was a degree and one year of working anywhere doing anything. That bar needs to be raised. The 1099’s are doing okay but they haven’t increased their pay scale since I’ve been doing this job.

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now. Anyone else?.

Great ideas! Here’s one…

1099’s should contract directly with NBIB and report to a Fed SAC. Any full time investigators should be government employees. This would save so much in costs and manpower and increase productivity because each contractor is running a complete organization from the top down. Think about how tight the zoning would be if all the 1099’s and FT reported to the same case assignment and management systems.