Today, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2860, the “OPM IG Act,” a bill authored and introduced by U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27).
The OPM IG Act would provide much-needed oversight of the $2 billion Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revolving fund that federal agencies pay into for Human Resources services, including federal background checks. H.R. 2860 specifically requires the OPM to budget up to .33% for internal investigations and requires audits of this fund by the OPM’s Inspector General.
“Congressional investigations have uncovered serious allegations of fraud within the revolving fund operations, including in the background investigations used to determine an individuals’ eligibility for a security clearance,” said Congressman Farenthold.
“This has serious implications for our national security. Weakened federal background checks have been cited as a contributing factor to the tragic events that occurred at the Washington Navy Yard on September 16, 2013.”
A report released this week by the House Oversight and Government Committee reveals several shortcomings in the federal security clearance process, leading to D.C. Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis being able to obtain and keep a security clearance despite a history of violence and signs of mental illness. Among the report’s key findings was that incomplete information on Alexis was made available to background investigators, who did not know that a previous 2004 arrest of Alexis in Seattle involved a firearm and that a police report stated Alexis claimed to have suffered a “’black-out’ fueled by anger.”
“The fact that Aaron Alexis, who possessed a criminal record, entered the Navy Yard that fateful day with security access is highly disturbing,” continued Congressman Farenthold. “It shows the many flaws within the federal background check system that need to be addressed.”
In June, OPM Inspector General (IG) Patrick McFarland testified before the Federal Workforce subcommittee, stating OPM’s revolving fund programs “have been operating in the shadows for far too long,” adding that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
“My bill answers the call for transparency with common sense solutions. It will provide much-needed oversight over the revolving fund and its programs and root out fraud within the background check systems,” continued Farenthold.
H.R. 2860 passed the House and Senate in unanimous votes before reaching the President’s desk. President Obama signed the OPM IG Act into law today.
CLICK HERE to view the OPM IG Act