The cost to government agencies of conducting security clearance background investigations is going up.
Although Jim Onusko, the transition leader of the National Background Investigations Bureau at the Office of Personnel Management, told Federal News Radio in September that a 2017 pricing schedule for security clearance would be released that month, security clearance attorney Catie Young hasn’t seen it, she says.
The Office of Personnel Management announced in September that it awarded four contracts to assist Federal Investigative Servicesin conducting federal background investigations, according to a press release. The goal is for the four contractors to help address the backlog of security clearance cases that has reached more than 500,000 in the past two years, according to Federal News Radio
The increased pricing for background investigations may not be permanent, according to Federal News Radio. Onusko said “investments in technology and big data tools should help reduce the costs of security clearances over time.”
Background investigation costs increased in July 2015 when OPM charged agencies retroactively for security clearance processing in an effort to cover costs related to a data breach that impacted more than 21 million current and former federal employees and their family members, Federal News Radio reported. Those related costs included credit monitoring and other services for those who were affected by the breach, according to ClearanceJobs.com. The increase also helped cover costs related to OPM’s terminated contract with security clearance investigation firm USIS in September 2014 for filing incomplete investigations in at least 665,000 cases.
OPM has increased the price of standard investigations an average of about 48 percent since 2014, according to ClearanceJobs.com.
The good news to the overwhelming majority of people seeking security clearance is that this increase won’t cost them more, Young says. The government agencies doing the hiring cover the costs. But the price increases force agencies to seek ways of saving money, and many of them cut costs by reducing the number of employees who have higher levels of clearance.