Pentagon kicks off background investigation system acquisition with RFI

The Defense Information Systems Agency kicked off the acquisition process to build out the backend IT systems that will support the federal government's new background investigation system this week, asking contractors to show what solutions they might have to support it.
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The Defense Information Systems Agency kicked off the acquisition process this week to build out the backend IT systems that will support the federal government’s new background investigation system, asking contractors to show what existing technologies they might have to support it.

DISA issued a request for information Tuesday for the National Background Investigation System, “the all-encompassing IT applications, storage, security, services, operations, and support for the National Background Investigation Bureau,” which the Office of Personnel Management conceived to replace the Federal Investigative Services in the wake of hacks on its personnel records and security clearance systems in 2014.

The Defense Department has been tasked with operating the IT infrastructure of the new system. DISA — DOD’s IT acquisition arm — launched a NBIS program management office to “establish an enterprise IT enclave that enables business process reengineering, including modular system development to accommodate changes in data requirements, advanced security protections to safeguard data, enables broad shared services to maximize investments, and not only meets the needs of the end users, but also connects those users to the process,” according to the RFI.

“The NBIS PMO will operate with a great sense of urgency, but with constant awareness that the systems must be secure, delivered in the most cost-effective manner, and meet high performance standards,” DISA NBIS Program Manager Chris Catlin said in a video series launched this week to explain more about the NBIS acquisition.


[Read more: New background check agency announced in wake of OPM hacks]

OPM will still be responsible for conducting the background investigations under the NBIB. It recently awarded four $1 million contracts to support the new service, which it anticipates will be stood up in the first week of October.

DISA has a pretty good idea of the initial IT capabilities it believes the system should have. The agency issued a capabilities document with the RFI that envisions a system with the need to provide position designation, validate investigation need, conduct electronic applications, automatically check records, process applicant fingerprints, provide information to and from the field, and more.

But the agency isn’t completely tied down to the list. “When responding to this RFI, solutions do not have to satisfy all system objectives,” it says. “If there is an innovative solution that meets or exceeds one or more system objective, potential offerors are encouraged to respond.”

To start, DISA is “researching and testing other Government-owned applications to satisfy some of the capabilities.” For those requirements not satisfied, DISA will then look to buy commercial-off-the-shelf products, the RFI explains. It will also look to deliver services incrementally, initially launching a system that is fully capable of conducting a full background investigation, and then later adding more capabilities in priority of need and feasibility.


Catlin says that DISA will begin migrating the systems government already owns to NBIS “next quarter.” In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, he adds, DISA will “start contractual activity to procure the COTS products, solutions and services.”

RFI responses are due by Sept. 23.

DISA also invites interested vendors to one-on-one information sessions during the last week of September.

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