Federal agencies in the Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC) Principals have made progress in implementing the Trusted Workforce 2.0 framework, however further work remains, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The PAC Principals—comprising of the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security at the Department of Defense (DoD)—implemented Trusted Workforce 2.0, which is a reform of personnel vetting processes, reducing a backlog of investigations, developing a policy framework for a new approach to personnel vetting, and developing much needed IT systems.

GAO’s review found that the OMB and OPM have reduced the investigations backlog and started developing IT systems to modernize the vetting process. However, the watchdog agency also noted that this was the first step and further action was still needed.

For example, the DoD does not have a reliable schedule to help manage the National Background Investigation Services (NBIS) system. The department’s NBIS system has been under development since 2016, and according to the report, the current development schedule for NBIS is not reliable. GAO recommended that the department revise its NBIS schedule “to meet the characteristics of a reliable schedule fully.”

GAO also found that the DoD has taken limited strategic workforce planning steps for its entire personnel vetting workforce because it has not established a milestone.

“By establishing a milestone, DoD would create an accountability mechanism to complete its planning, which would help it determine the right mix of skills and competencies needed to effectively accomplish the personnel vetting mission,” the report noted.

The GAO recommended that the DoD establish a milestone to complete strategic workforce planning. The DoD concurred with the two recommendations the GAO made.

Additionally, the report found that while the Office of the DNI (ODNI) has formalized requirements to enroll the eligible national security population in continuous evaluation (CE), it has not assessed program performance.

In 2017, GAO recommended that ODNI develop performance measures to evaluate CE and a plan to address its impact on agency resources. While ODNI concurred with GAO’s recommendation, it has delayed taking actions in response and does not plan to do so until CE is fully implemented, according to ODNI officials.

“This lack of progress may warrant congressional consideration, as it could limit ODNI’s and congressional decision-makers’ ability to assess the effectiveness and impact of continuous evaluation,” the report noted. GAO recommended that Congress consider requiring the DNI to develop performance measures for CE.

However, the ODNI pushed back on the need for congressional action in their response to GAO, stating that “ODNI has already developed performance measures to assess the efficacy and impact CE automated record checks. These measures address the CE process, outputs, and outcomes.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.