Thursday, July 18, 2019

DSS transitions to DCSA

The Defense Security Service (DSS) has transitioned into a security and counterintelligence organization called Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. This new entity still has some of the original mission, but is reorganized to include security clearance investigations, counterintelligence support, and NISP oversight for the DoD.

There are currently three mission areas: Critical Technology Protection, Professional Education, and Trusted Workforce. Of the three mission areas, the Trusted Workforce includes security clearance tasks and responsibilities.

The Defense Vetting Directorate (DVD) integrates background investigations, insider threats, screening, continuous vetting, industry clearance submissions and adjudications. To make this happen, the capabilities for the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) and DoD Consolidated Adjudications Facility (DoD CAF) are brought in, contributing to a…”contribute to a holistic, responsive, end-to-end personnel vetting enterprise”.

A newer entity under the reorganization is the Vetting Risk Operations Center (VROC) which incorporates capabilities of industry’s Personnel Security Management Office, DoD’s Continuous Evaluation Program Management Office, and the Industry’s Insider Threat Office.

While these changes are being documented, websites redesigned, information management systems developed, and more, the security clearance process under the VROC continues as before. From the FSO point of view, little change is required of them. The below outlined steps for initiating a security clearance request look very similar to how FSOs have always been executing.

Obtaining a personnel security clearance

Once a Cleared Defense Contractor (CDC) determines that qualifying subject requires a personnel security clearance. As always, the employee completes or updates their Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) information and submits signature pages and fingerprints electronically for all investigation requests.

FSO Actions

The Facility's Security Officer (FSO) initiates the e-QIP and provides the applicant their e-QIP user instruction, pin and access code.

The applicant can then access the SF86 via the e-QIP system and completes the e-QIP and digitally signs their certification and release forms.

The FSO accesses the e-QIP system and reviews information for completeness and adequacy, then submits the security clearance package to VROC.

The next few steps provide opportunity for the applicant to engage with the security clearance investigation and adjudication process. This isn’t fire and forget, it should be interactive. For example, many applicants don’t understand the process and may not quite understand where they are in the process. I’ve encountered many who thought they were under the investigation process only to find out a year later they were never submitted.

It’s important for applicants and FSOs to realize that there are tools available to get real time updates on their clearance.

Once the FSO submits the request and all relevant information, they can now The FSO can confirm if the VROC has received the investigation request. This is important because the clock begins to tick for the FSO to submit electronic fingerprints within 14 days of the “Received” status date. Later, the FSO can confirm the status of the investigation and confirm that the fingerprints have been processed.

The recent change from DSS to DCSA primarily reflects reorganization of departments and personnel that work in the organization. Roles are changing and emphasis is on threat based risk management. However, while the organization changes are occurring the supporting architecture and customer (FSO) actions supporting NISPOM requirements are relatively untouched.

Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . He regularly consults, presents security training, and recommends export compliance and intellectual property protection countermeasures. He is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook", "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual", and NISPOM/FSO Training".

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