PerSec Tools for Agency Hiring Processes

September 03, 2020 by Lisa Sigler

PerSec Tools for Agency Hiring Processes

Personnel security (PerSec) and background investigation (BI) backlogs can leave federal agencies vulnerable to exploitation. In trying to reduce backlogs, agencies of all sizes face the same challenges: how to manage heavy caseloads and adhere to federal regulations in order to conduct thorough investigations and issue fair determinations for all candidates. PerSec programs are a perfect fit for case management solutions, which automate processes from intake to investigation to adjudication and reinvestigation.

Traceability and Accountability

A routine PerSec case may capture attention at any moment, whether through an inspector general inquiry, FOIA request, legal challenge, or OPM audit. For every case, agencies must be able to demonstrate regulatory compliance. For example, there are federal standards for suitability reviews (5 CFR 731.202B) and national security reviews (SEAD 4 National Security Directive). PerSec programs must also adhere to agency-specific guidelines and be ready to reproduce the rationale for their actions and decisions.

To maximize efficiency, a case management solution maps its workflows to these federal and agency-specific guidelines. As a case progresses, tasks are auto-assigned for completion or review, and information is routed as necessary. Worksheets tied to the workflows verify at a glance that all steps have been completed and include space for adjudicators to document why and how they reached a determination. Using the worksheets can add another layer of accountability to your PerSec program, especially if set to require attestation.

Additional workflows, for intake/waiver determination, may be configured to match agency-specific processes for evaluating employees prior to investigation. For example, an agency may with to incorporate HSPD-12 factors, checklists for reviewing credit reports and OF 306 forms, or internal reviews of hiring documents.

Always-Current OPM Interfaces

Manually exchanging reports with OPM consumes valuable days in the vetting cycle. Agencies can reclaim that time by leveraging case management functionality to interface with key OPM systems:

  • Electronic Form Delivery — Transmit reports of investigation from OPM to the adjudicating agency. For agencies that previously relied on couriers to deliver completed packages, eDelivery can reduce transmittal from 10 days to 1-3 business days. That’s up to a third of the typical 30-day period allowed by OPM for adjudication.
  • 79a Agency Adjudication Report — Export the 79a report of determination status changes to OPM’s PIPS portal and allows an agency to bulk upload adjudicated investigations. Agencies can report on several hundred adjudications in one easy upload, saving minutes or hours per week.
  • Clearance Verify Service (CVS) Daily Report and Monthly Recertification — Digitally report on clearance changes and produce a monthly recertification report per OPM’s requirements.

Reliable Tracking and Reporting

Agencies must meet both standard reporting requirements as well as responding to ad hoc inquiries. Instead of enlisting the help of a database analyst or vendor, agencies can use case management solutions that often include standard reports that are automatically generated based on event statuses and other filters. For example, to initiate re-investigations in bulk, the system might generate a list of due or nearly due re-investigations that can be uploaded to the e-QIP ingestion portal. Ad hoc queries can generate reports based on any field or object of interest.

Continuous Configurability

The national spotlight on PerSec breeches and vulnerabilities isn’t likely to dim anytime soon. Meanwhile, expect additional regulations and oversight. To keep current, agencies must be able to add or edit suitability factors, investigation types, adjudication codes, and other data points that are automatically cascaded throughout the application, without requiring code changes.

To address these ever-changing needs, Tyler’s Background Investigation and Personnel Security and Suitability solution is used by agencies throughout the federal government to manage more than 50,000 BI and security clearance requests a month, including active cases for the Department of Justice. Purpose-built to streamline federal PerSec programs, this case management solution enables agencies of any size to leverage the same automated workflows, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) interfaces, and reporting tools — so they can reclaim days or even weeks per candidate in the vetting process.

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