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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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The e-Clearance initiative leverages information technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the personnel security investigations process. OPM has reduced the time to process background investigations and minimized duplicate background investigations. The e-Clearance initiative will save the government and private industry time and resources, and it will save the taxpayers about $260 million over 10 years.

The e-Clearance Initiative is currently implementing three components to improve the current security clearance process.

  1. The electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) automates the Questionnaire for National Security Positions, Standard Form 86 (SF-86). Since its deployment on June 30, 2003, e-QIP has reduced the time to schedule background investigations by automating the collection and improving the quality of applicant background information.

  2. The Clearance Verification System (CVS) was deployed on January 31, 2003. CVS provides access for all agency authorized users to the personnel security investigation and clearance records of the government.

  3. Imaging focuses on converting paper investigative records held by the myriad investigative agencies and making them available, among all authorized federal users, electronically. By doing so, e-Clearance reduces the need for performing duplicate work previously caused by delays in copying and sending paper copies.

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The e-Clearance initiative is a project designed to speed the security clearance process, promote reciprocity among federal agencies, and save money. It consists of three modules, which will help to realize the goals set forth in the President's Management Agenda concerning a citizen-centered e-Government.

  1. Module One:
    Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP)

    e-QIP has automated the SF-86 via a secure website, allowing sponsored applicants to easily submit their form electronically. Once reviewed by the sponsoring agency, the electronic submission can then be passed directly to its investigative supplier. The manual submission of SF 86s that used to take hours to complete and days or weeks to process is now executed electronically within minutes and processed within hours. In addition, all applicant data is saved for subsequent submissions, eliminating the need to "start from scratch". E-Clearance has also added other investigative forms (SF 85, SF 85P) to the e-QIP system so that, no matter what level position one is being considered for, the appropriate investigative form is automated and available for electronic submission. This has led to improved processing time of all types of investigations and dramatically reduced the overall error and rejection rates for all standard investigative forms.

  2. Module Two:
    Clearance Verification System (CVS)

    Efforts to clear an individual are often duplicated because one agency may not know that another agency has already conducted a background investigation. CVS enables agencies to verify clearances granted by other agencies. Agencies have almost immediate access to more than 98% of existing clearances through the development of a bridge between the Department of Defense's Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) and OPM's Security/Suitability Investigations Index database. Access to investigative and clearance information minimizes duplicate, unnecessary investigations, speeds up the processing of clearance requests, and saves money.

  3. Module Three:
    Imaging of Investigative Records (Imaging)

    The longest delay in an investigation often relates to the retrieval, copying, and mailing of previous investigations. This has resulted in some duplicative investigations since it is sometimes quicker to perform another investigation versus using data in an existing one. Imaging, which includes the creation, storage, and retrieval of digitally imaged investigative information, eases this process and quickens the dissemination of material to authorized users. The ability to quickly access previous investigations also eliminates duplicate investigations, reduces the number of Interim Clearances, and saves money by eliminating unnecessary investigations.

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