Tester Demands Answers About New Background Investigations Bureau

Senator Continues to Hold Government Accountable for Preventing Insider Threats

(Big Sandy, Mont.)– Following up on his efforts to bolster national security and increase transparency and oversight of the federal government, Senator Jon Tester is demanding answers from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) about the creation of the new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB).

“We write to follow up on our May 18, 2016 letter inquiring about the progress made by the OPM in its transition of federal background investigation functions from the Federal Investigative Services (FIS) to the NBIB,” Tester wrote. “We remain concerned about the timing of the transition.”

After the high-profile cases of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, and a massive OPM security breach that exposed sensitive information about more than 21 million people inside and outside government, the administration announced they were creating a new and improved agency-the NBIB-to take over the responsibility of conducting background investigations, a task previously carried out by the FIS.

In the wake of this announcement Tester asked OPM for more specific information about the transition, including budgets, employee estimates, and organizational structures. Senator Tester and Senator McCaskill of Missouri previously requested specific information and documentation about the new bureau from OPM, but their request has yet to be fulfilled.

“Bolstering our national security is an urgent task and we therefore request you provide this information as soon as possible,” they wrote.

  • Tester reiterated the importance of providing this information, asking specifically for: 
  • A detailed description of NBIB’s operations, including organizational structure, budget estimates, office locations, and information security procedures; 
  • Further information on the NBIB’s proposed IT infrastructure and case management system; 
  • An update on the current backlog of background investigations; 
  • Feedback on the feasibility of meeting the OPM’s self-imposed deadline. 

“In our previous letter we requested information from OPM in order to assess its ability to meet key milestones in standing up the NBIB,” Tester wrote. “We have yet to receive any of the requested documentation…[and] we are deeply concerned that the most basics structures of the bureau-including an organizational leadership chart, physical location, or employee credentialing process-are not yet in place.”

Tester has been at the forefront of Congress’ efforts to improve the background investigation process. You can read more about these efforts HERE and read the full text of Tester’s letter HERE.