Statement of Lt Gen Charles J. Cunningham Jr., Usaf (Ret) Director Defense Security Service Before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs

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Statement of

Lt Gen Charles J. Cunningham Jr., USAF (Ret)


Defense Security Service
Before the

Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and

International Relations
House Committee on Government Reform

Update on Defense Security Service and DoD Personnel Security Clearance Reinvestigations Backlog

September 20, 2000

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, it is my pleasure to appear before you today to provide you an update on the recent and continuing efforts of the Defense Security Service to eliminate the periodic reinvestigations backlog while concurrently managing our current inventory and continuing influx of personnel security investigations.

Earlier this year I appeared before this same Subcommittee and presented our plan for improving overall agency performance in our three core mission areas. Specifically, I spoke of the initiatives that were planned or then in progress to address our pending inventory of investigations and the periodic reinvestigations backlog within the Department of Defense. I am pleased to report that we have made many changes that have resulted in greater efficiencies in our personnel security investigations processes and have seen demonstrable improvement in our Case Control Management System. However, our pending inventory of investigations and the Department of Defense periodic reinvestigations backlog that continues to grow have impacted our progress and the results of our improvements and initiatives have not yet become evident.
The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Security and Information Operations, has developed an implementation plan to eliminate the periodic reinvestigations backlog by the end of FY2002. Under this plan, additional investigations, previously under the purview of Defense Security Service, will be redirected to the Office of Personnel Management. The Defense Security Service will continue to conduct all industry investigations, some military accessions and all Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) initial and periodic reinvestigations for the military departments.
The investigations to be conducted by the Defense Security Service will be comprised, for the most part, of work that requires extensive investigative field effort (records checks, interviews of friends, neighbors, etc. and subject interviews) as opposed to the largely automated processes associated with the National Agency Check/Local Agency Check/Credit Check (NACLCs) that will go to the Office of Personnel Management. This redistribution of work is important in the context of projecting the number of investigations that the Defense Security Service can complete. To explain, as the backlog of internal lower-level (largely automated) investigations currently in our pending inventory are closed and we receive the new incoming higher-level work, the complexity of our total investigative effort increases. Nevertheless, we are taking the necessary actions to ensure that our productivity remains consistent with our Defense Management Council contract of 2,500 completed investigations per day. These actions, which include personnel security investigative process improvements, future Case Control Management System enhancements and prior automation improvements to scope, open, and close low level investigations automatically, will enable DSS to become more efficient in the processing of investigative requests.
Since I last appeared before this Committee on February 16, 2000, the Defense Security Service has made remarkable progress in terms of improving our personnel security investigations process and stabilizing our Case Control Management System. Specifically, we have completed approximately 42,207 periodic reinvestigations for all levels of clearance since February 1, 2000; however, we do not know the number of remaining reinvestigations still to be submitted for investigation. We are aware that the Department of Defense components and industry are continuing to review their clearance requirements and take action, where appropriate, to administratively terminate or to downgrade clearances if access at a higher level is not necessary.

Mr. Chairman, you have also asked me to report on the status of our Case Control Management System and how this system factors into the growth or reduction of the personnel security investigations backlog. During the past year the Defense Security Service has taken aggressive action to stabilize our Case Control Management System and to identify, prioritize and implement those improvements that were most critical to system stabilization and near-term processing improvements. I am very pleased to inform you that these efforts are paying off in that we are beginning to see dramatic improvements resulting from the software enhancements and corrections that have been implemented within the past six months. Enhancements to the workflow process have greatly facilitated the movement of actions through the Case Control Management System. As an example, on July 23, 2000, a software enhancement was installed that automated the opening and closing processes on favorable Secret, Confidential and trustworthiness PSI requests. This enhancement has reduced the amount of human intervention required for Secret and Confidential investigations. As a result, our case analysts are able to concentrate their efforts on more complex actions and review of investigations.

The month of August proved to be a turning point for the Defense Security Service. As you may recall, I previously briefed this Subcommittee that the Defense Security Service had a well-established target to hit in August 2000. That target was established by the Defense Management Council and required our Personnel Investigations Center to produce 2500 completed investigations per day. We have hit that target! This achievement was the culmination of a year of dedicated effort to turn the agency around and we believe that we have been successful in those efforts.
Testing will soon begin on other delivered enhancements and software corrections to the Case Control Management System that are designed to further improve the personnel security investigations process and eliminate manual workarounds. One major enhancement will be the identification and targeting of investigative leads based on special project identifiers, suspense date and lead received date.
Our revised Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire (EPSQ), version 2.2, will contain over 70 improvements, many of which represent additional changes that will streamline our investigations process. We will field Version 2.2 by October 15, 2000.
The Defense Security Service continues to work closely with the Systems Support Group of the U.S. Air Force, which provides our Program Management Office. Direction and oversight is provided through the Commander, Electronic Support Center, and myself as the Director of DSS. This oversight continues to ensure the application of required policies and information technology requirements to complete the development of the Case Control Management System. In addition, an “In Process Independent Review” by TRW is ongoing as a follow-up to their initial study of the system. This review will be completed by October 6, 2000, and will provide the basis for further analysis and system improvements.
We have defined a target architecture to meet our future information management requirements that will maximize User interactive and real-time interface. This target architecture provides a framework for future development and implementation of the entire Defense Security Service Enterprise System, including the Case Control Management System. Funding for this target architecture is being worked in the current budgeting process.
In sum, the Case Control Management System has been stabilized and the recent improvements that have been implemented allow the Defense Security Service to take advantage of the original functional design to minimize human intervention and repetitive tasks.
In 1999, we also began the first phase of electronic submission of fingerprint cards to the FBI. Our current average response time from the FBI is five hours. We are striving to have live-scan fingerprint capability by October 1, 2000.
The Defense Security Service is also developing an automated interface with the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). This interface will provide for an electronic records check of the DMDC database on all subjects of investigation that will provide us with prior military service information (to include fraudulent enlistment or indication of foreign military service) in a more timely manner and an automatic update of investigative records. Testing of this interface is underway and deployment is anticipated to occur shortly after testing has been completed.
Our plan to use private sector contractors to augment our investigative workforce has continued to materialize and is proving to be a successful endeavor. Our Phase I contractors are currently completing more than 100 investigations per day. Under Phase II of our contractor augmentation plan, we have signed contracts with three “end-to-end” contractors. One additional contract is still under negotiation; however, we expect these negotiations to be completed and a contract signed in the very near future. These Phase II contractors will soon reach levels of output consistent with their individual capabilities.
In addition to contractor augmentation, we are also using military reservists to augment our investigative workforce. Currently, approximately 45 military reservists who have prior investigative and interviewing experience are integrated into our agent workforce. They are being held to the same standards and evaluation procedures as DSS investigators.
In the DoD Inspector General report of May 30, 2000 entitled, “Tracking Security Clearance Requests,” it was recommended that the Defense Security Service track all security clearance requests from the time they are received until the investigation is opened. This tracking system was proposed to eliminate the time spent in researching customer requests on the receipt and/or status of requests for investigations. The Defense Security Service has concurred with this recommendation and we are currently posting receipt of all investigations on our Internet web site for a period of 180 days. These receipts are available one to three business days after successful transmission of the file. After we have opened the investigation, that fact becomes evident as an open dossier case control number is displayed in the Defense Clearance and Investigations Index (DCII). In the long term, we are planning the development of a Case Control Management System enhancement known as “Data Warehousing.” Under this concept, each individual document would be tracked from the time it is loaded into CCMS until final resolution. The information would remain permanently stored in the corporate database as a record of the life of the request.
While we have worked hard to improve our productivity, we have not neglected our quality improvement, training and professional development efforts. The Defense Security Service has been proactively and aggressively implementing many initiatives to ensure quality in all of our security products and services. Our Standards and Evaluation program is ongoing and performance measures are being developed, implemented and refined. Customer satisfaction feedback is being collected and evaluated. Finally, the Defense Security Service will use a three-pronged approach, i.e. Prevention, Detection and Correction for creating consistent and acceptable results as the initial component in evolving to a mature and institutionalized continuous process improvement and learning culture.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out that we do not control the quantity or type of initial or periodic reinvestigations requested nor do we control the submission of those requests to the Defense Security Service. Personnel security policies dictate the investigative requirements, including the intervals for reinvestigations that are linked to the level of security clearance required. The submission of requests for personnel security investigations is a function and responsibility of the individual elements of the military departments, defense agencies and cleared contractor community and we receive them as they are processed by these individual entities. More importantly, the Department of Defense prioritization comes from many sources and is difficult to integrate into our operations. This leaves the Defense Security Service at a severe disadvantage in trying to balance investigation requirements for a myriad of customers, all of whom have competing requirements and clearance needs.
With an anticipated significant number of security clearance requests expected through FY2001, it seems logical to me that use of the existing Department of Defense planning, programming and budgeting system (PPBS) would greatly improve the identification of requirements and simplify the process. It is my opinion that the military departments are thinking positively in this direction. It also seems logical that the establishment of central requirements facilities in the military departments would be most advantageous. You may recall my brief description of this concept at my last appearance before this Subcommittee. Basically, the concept involves recognition of the personnel security clearance process as a three-phase process: i) requirements and prioritization,

ii) investigations, and iii) adjudication.

Mr. Chairman, I share this Subcommittee’s concern with respect to the still pending periodic reinvestigations backlog as it relates to national security concerns. The Defense Security Service has made significant progress in reducing our investigations case processing times; however, I am very much aware of the continuing impact that our delayed processing is causing for all Department of Defense (DoD) components and individuals awaiting completion of their investigation. However, on the basis of our recent achievements and trend analysis, I am quite confident that the Defense Security Service will be able to eliminate our portion of the reinvestigations backlog in accordance with the plan developed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Security & Information Operations, and return to a pending inventory of investigations consistent with normal operational requirements.
This concludes my prepared statement on the current status of the Defense Security Service. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

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