OPM IG in the market for a search tool to help background investigation services

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The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Office of Personnel Management would like to make their inspections a little easier. According to a new Request for Information (RFI) issued earlier this week, the OIG is seeking an online investigation platform, which would include an online web-based search and retrieval service that could provide public information. and private life on individuals and businesses.

The OIG is clearly looking for something that offers a bit more than the average Google search results. The OPM search engine could allow the office to more effectively search for final prosecution results. In order to fulfill the mission, the department must be able to carry out investigative research, medical sanctions and exclusion.

The OIG described the investigation service’s supply as vital to the safety of its staff – and the information could include “concealed weapons permits, criminal actions, civil liens and judgments and even bankruptcies. “.

It is unclear exactly how OIG currently collects this data.

“It appears that the OIG is looking for a tool to simplify complex information searches that span multiple databases,” said technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.

“The agency’s research extends to areas such as potential criminal investigations, disbarments of attorneys, and penalties for doctors and other medical professionals,” King told ClearanceJobs. “It is therefore reasonable for the agency to want to know as much as possible about the witnesses or the subjects of investigation before sending its personnel into the field.”

Where is the data?

The specifications required for this research tool are broken down into 17 general service requirements, 14 service requirements, six recovery/result requirements, and six healthcare provider and business specific requirements. This includes searches for individuals with personal identification information, death records, job or employment searches, similar sounding name searches, email searches, vehicle identification number, search companies and specifications for recoverable data.

However, a data recovery system or search engine would always only be as good as the databases it can access. In the physical world, it doesn’t really make sense when someone says, “you can’t get there from here,” but online, it may actually be true.

If the information is not in an accessible database, it certainly cannot be retrieved.

“Research areas include criminal actions, civic privileges and bankruptcies, and concealed weapons licenses where documents are mostly if not entirely publicly available,” King noted. “I expect that if access to regulated or highly private information is required, OIG will attempt to obtain permission from the subjects under investigation or the necessary subpoenas.”

OPM Violation Reminder

Just seven and a half years ago, in June 2015, OPM announced that it had been the target of a data breach involving its personal records. The agency was forced to disclose that the background investigation records of current, former and potential federal employees and contractors had been stolen.

The question now is whether the information collected by its search engine would be better protected.

“I believe the old adage of ‘once burned, twice shy’ can apply here,” King continued. “The OIG understands and is likely sensitive to public concerns about access to sensitive information.”

Also, the lessons learned from this very serious breach may have been to better protect data in the future, and the OPM could be much more careful in this endeavor.

“It should also be noted that the OIG is starting the effort modestly, with only three active database users planned for the first year, and adding two more users per year thereafter,” King said. . “In other words, access to the tool will be limited to a small team of specialists, which is also likely to help limit potential problems.”

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