Charles Phalen, director of the National Background Investigation Bureau at the Office of Personnel Management, discusses moving his organization’s functions to the Defense Department, and why they’re not waiting “for the green flag.”
As part of the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan, background investigations are moving from the Office of Personnel Management to the Defense Department. If everything goes according to plan, the Defense Security Service will take over some time in the near future. According to Charles Phalen, director of the National Background Investigation Bureau at OPM, there are two key dates in the transition. “The first date will come much sooner in the process. That is the point when the department will take over responsibility for the program. Then there’ll be a period of time that could be as much as a year, depending on how long it all takes. That’s to get the logistics, the infrastructure, the financing situation in place, so on a date certain the entire operation shifts from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense,” Phelan told Government Matters. “All of that said, we are not waiting for the green flag to drop. We have been working very closely with the department since the Defense Authorization Act came out in December… It’s important to note this is an entire shift of the organization. It is the people, the resources, the inventory. I think the real advantage here is it allows us to keep focusing on all those important things we’ve been working on, like business transformation.” Phelan says that the Background Investigation Bureau’s mission is continuing as the organization continues its move, which is simpler than one might expect. “What is made easier with the movement of the whole mission is that we don’t have to worry about whether we are going to have to bifurcate it and create a separate infrastructure. We can focus on the key things,” Phelan said.