Review of the Security and Emergency Planning Staff's Management of Background Investigations

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2005-010
September 2005
Office of the Inspector General

Purpose, Scope, and Methodology of OIG Review

Purpose of the OIG Review

The OIG conducted this review to examine SEPSís background investigation program. Specifically, we evaluated SEPSís management of four program areas: (1) managing background investigations of political appointees, attorneys, and other personnel whose investigations are not delegated to the components; (2) granting clearances for access to SCI materials for all Department employees; (3) providing policy guidance and training on background investigations; and (4) providing oversight of the componentsí background investigation programs.


This review focused on the operations of SEPSís Personnel Security Group and the Compliance Review Section. We examined functions that are currently SEPSís responsibility and also analyzed several areas that will become SEPSís responsibility once enacted legislation takes effect. Our scope did not include reviewing individual files to evaluate the quality of the field investigations and adjudications, nor did we evaluate SEPSís performance in its other areas of responsibility, such as physical security, communications security, and technical security.


Interviews. We interviewed Security Programs Managers from 12 components, as well as staff from SEPS, the FBI, the ATF, the OIG, JMD, and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Interviews With Security Programs Managers. We conducted telephone interviews with Security Programs Managers from the following components: the FBI, ATF, BOP, USMS, DEA, EOUSA, Executive Office of the United States Trustees (EOUST), Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), OIG, Criminal Division, and Civil Division.

Interviews With SEPS staff. We interviewed the Director and Executive Officer of SEPS. From the Personnel Security Group, we interviewed the Assistant Director. We also interviewed the Chiefs of the Operations and the Policy, Training, and Oversight sections. From the Office of Information Safeguards and Security Oversight, we interviewed the Assistant Director. From the Compliance Review Section, we interviewed all three Security Specialists, including the CRS Chief. We also spoke with two former Security Specialists. From the Technical Security Section, we interviewed the managers of the software application used to track background investigations.

Interviews With FBI staff. We interviewed the Unit Chief and staff from the National Name Check Section of the Records Management Division at FBI Headquarters.

Interviews With ATF staff. We interviewed the Chief of the ATFís Personnel Security Branch and two individuals from the Software Management Branch, Information Services Division.

Interviews With OIG staff. We interviewed the OIGís Personnel Security Specialist and Security Programs Manager, who is one of the former Compliance Review Section staff members.

Interviews With JMD staff. We interviewed the Chief Information Officer, the Deputy Chief Information Officer, a contractor working in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and an employee from JMDís Management and Planning Staff.

Interview With the Office of the Deputy Attorney General staff. We interviewed an Associate Deputy Attorney General.

Site visits. In early March 2005, the OIG review team accompanied the CRS Chief on a security compliance review of the ATF and USMS in Louisville, Kentucky. The compliance review included two ATF offices Ė the Louisville field division and a sub-office located in Lexington, Kentucky Ė and the USMSís office in the federal courthouse in Louisville. We also attended a May 2005 Security Programs Managers training conference.

Documentation review. We reviewed numerous documents, including internal SEPS documents, Department security policies, security updates and notices to Security Programs Managers from SEPS, budget requests, customer satisfaction surveys, position descriptions, external reports on security and SEPS, congressional testimony, pending legislative changes to personnel security, OPMís timeliness and workload requirements for the Department, and online information regarding SEPS.

Data analysis. After requesting data from SEPSís background investigation inventory software, we analyzed the data using SPSS software and Microsoft Excel and Access. Our data analysis included timeliness, background investigation processing, reinvestigation compliance, and projections for current and anticipated SEPS workload. We provided the analyzed data and our interpretation to SEPS for concurrence prior to issuance of the draft report.

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