President Trump ordered the Pentagon Wednesday to take over the government’s massive job of conducting background checks for security clearances.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order transferring the background investigations from the Office of Personnel Management, which the administration is aiming to dismantle by the fall of 2019.
The order said the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 authorizes the Defense Department to conduct background investigations and work with OPM on a phased-in transition for background checks performed by the National Background Investigations Bureau.
Mr. Trump said implementing that legislative mandate “while retaining the benefit of economies of scale in addressing the federal government’s background investigations workload, avoiding unnecessary risk, promoting the ongoing alignment of efforts with respect to vetting federal employees and contractors, and facilitating needed reforms in this critical area requires that the primary responsibility for conducting background investigations government-wide be transferred” to the Pentagon.
Security clearances have posed headaches for several administrations; the Trump White House has encountered difficulties gaining clearances for some top advisers such as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The administration is planning to divide OPM’s functions among the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget.
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