The government knows good and well what’s going on. They have always known. If they cared they would set standards, maximum case loads…They scapegoated USIS for I’ve never been sure what. Recently they have installed the “begin timeliness” on each case. You can see it in the case menus. The true demon here is the government. Business gets away with what it can get away with. It’s a business. But as I have said before this is inherently a government job. There should be know interest other than investigating people who are looking for access to secrets. Period. If that is truly the interests of the government there would be an all federal staff. Direct contractors are still contractors. They are not better Angels.
That’s incorrect. I personally know an IC that was used by DSS in the early 2000’s as an IC on a direct federal contract. He said it was great! Then OPM took over the DOD work in 2005. That’s when USIS ramped up and hired thousands of Investigators to do this work and where I got my entry into this industry.
It wouldn’t be hard. If other agencies are doing it, then why can’t DCSA do it? You don’t have to run it under a SAC either. The program could be operated under a model similar to other federal agencies. The best thing about this is when you cut out the vendors, you also are able to cut a lot of expense and save the tax payer money. Estimates are that it would cost 1/3 less to use IC’s than to use the vendors to do the work. This is a no brainer. DCSA hopefully is kicking this into gear and not making the same failures and decisions that OPM/NBIB to use the vendors for so long that created horrible morale and toxicity in the lives of all Contract Investigators for so long.
If you want the best and the brightest and most experienced Investigators, pay them a professional wage and treat them with professionalism.
If you want a poor product, keep using the vendors and you’ll get what you pay for.
I agree with you Duetooversight. I further feel that we should frame this potential move in the context of the current workload and capacity of the federal workforce. From what I have understand, work is actually being diverted from federal investigators to the ISP’s in order to fulfill contract obligations and fed BI’s in markets outside of East/West coasts are under capacity. Many are on rotational TDY’s outside of their local market in order to stay at individual capacity. The backlog is no longer statistically relevant.
If fed BI’s are used to full capacity, how big would the potential direct IC BI field be? 1000-2000? It’s possible. That number could easily be managed by remote program managers if they engaged an experienced direct contract work force.
The days of having 8,000 hourly & IC investigators working for ISP’s are over. ISP’s are skinning their field to the bone with furloughs, reduced hours, forced PTO, layoffs, shut downs (ISN recently punched their ticket), etc…Could the writing on the wall be any more obvious?
I think this move has strong legs.
DCSA said in the Conference last year that their model in the future was 2000 Investigators outside the Fed staff. You may be on to something…
Aha. Well I personally never ran into one until OPM took over, before that I was always interviewed by DIS/DSS agents. Thanks for the update.
No problem. I’m not sure how many IC’s there were but there was definitely an independent contract work force that had direct federal contracts with DIS/DSS.
How did your interview go?
It was for a Personnel Security Specialist position. Typical behavioral questions. I’m direct hire eligible so that’s why I was called…
A Direct - Hire Authority (DHA) enables an agency to hire , after public notice is given, any qualified applicant without regard to 5 U.S.C. 3309-3318, 5 CFR part 211, or 5 CFR part 337, subpart A. A DHA expedites hiring by eliminating competitive rating and ranking, veterans’ preference, and “rule of three” procedures . - OPM website
Anyone is eligible for direct hire if they qualify for the position.
I’ve been an advocate of this type of organizational structure since I retired in 2007. I wrote an article about it in 2016 (https://news.clearancejobs.com/2016/01/17/improving-personnel-security-background-investigations/):
A single investigative entity—operating on a fee-for-service basis, staffed primarily with federal employees, and augmented with individual contract investigators—conducting all federal PSIs has the greatest potential to maximize investigative quality, quantity, and timeliness and keep all investigative work fully under the control of a federal agency.
I managed a DSS FO in the 1990s that at a one time had 16 investigators, 4 contract investigators, 2 secretaries, and a subordinate RA with an SRA and 5 investigators. I think that a ratio of 1 contractor to 3 or 4 feds would work well.
Having worked as a consultant for a company that unsuccessfully bid on the NBIS project, I have a working knowledge of how NBIS is designed. I think once it’s fully deployed with automated single lead assignment ability, SAICs will have no problem integrating individual contract investigators into their workforce. Having feds and contractors working out of the same office will create efficiency of scale that has never existed before.
Amen! It’s amazing how many want to hold on to the current process as if things will suddenly change and the Vendors will value them.
This helps to resolve (or adds to) a discussion we had earlier, whether DIS/DSS used contractors or if that was something started by OPM. Looks like you had contractors as part of a primarily fed workforce.
Did those contractors work for some company that had a contract with DSS?
The four contractors worked directly for DIS each under his own nonpersonal services IDC contract. I was the SAIC and the COR. This went on for a couple of years between 1992 and 1994. I assigned and reviewed the contractors’ work. They were all retired DIS agents.
So a situation like that sounds pretty manageable. I used to work for contractors that did work for IC customers and I think they (the IC customers) hired contract investigators under a similar arrangement. All retired fed LE as far as I knew.
The only agencies I know of that do that are FBI and State Department, but both manage their contract investigators from their headquarters, not at the field office level. FBI has a special unit at their HQ that manages contract investigators called BICS (Background Investigation Contract Services). Some BICS contractors are former OPM and DSS investigators, but they use a lot of former cops and federal LEOs. Neither State Department nor FBI hire companies to do their background investigations; they enter into contracts with individual investigators. State Department also purchases investigations from NBIB for some or all of their contractors (e.g. construction workers who build embassies) and uses their inhouse investigative resources (primarily contract investigators) to do the investigations on their regular employees.
How did the interview go? Any scoop?