The White House will establish a new agency tasked with conducting background checks on contractors and government employees.
The White House will establish a new agency tasked with conducting background checks on contractors and government employees.

The Obama administration is establishing a new agency tasked with conducting background checks on contractors and government employees. The new agency, known as the National Background Investigations Bureau, replaces the Federal Investigative Services (FIS) under the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM), according to a statement released by the White House.

The establishment of the National Background Investigations Bureau follows a 90-day review of OPM cybersecurity protocol, during which the OPM was roundly criticized for its handling of federal employees' personal information.

“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,” wrote Jamal Brown, press secretary for the Office of Management and Budget, in the White House statement.

Last month, an Inspector General's office report took the agency to task for its mishandling of identity protection services following the breach. The report found that the contractor and subcontractor selected by the OPM were not in compliance with federal acquisition regulation (FAR).

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of the agency who called for former OPM Director Katherine Archuleta's resignation and asked Congress to remove the responsibility for security clearance data from the OPM, celebrated the decision. “I am encouraged by today's announcement that the Administration will be implementing much-needed changes to the way our government protects what has been described as the ‘crown jewels' of intelligence: the background investigations of Americans with security clearances,” he said, in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing the proposal in greater detail as the plan is developed, including the specific IT architecture designed by the Department of Defense.”

A transition team will help guide the hand-off from the OPM and FIS to the new agency, according to the White House statement.