A June 4 Office of Personnel Management incident that affected over 4,000 employees personnel data has led to OPM discovering vulnerabilities in the E-QIP system used for conducting background investigations and security clearances. The system has since been shut down for repairs.
Donna Harris, White Sands Missile Range human resources specialist supervisor, said the vulnerability was discovered when OPM Director Katherine Archuleta ordered an inspection of all systems after the June 4 incident. Though an incident had not occurred with the system, Archuleta ordered a shutdown to avoid a possible incident in the future. Harris said the repairs to the system will take anywhere from five to six weeks to repair.
“It affects anyone who does security clearance through OPM or anyone who needs a background check,” Harris said.
There are 32 prospective employees who will be affected by the recent shutdown of the system. According to Harris, Garrison will be the hardest hit with the hold on prospective employees.
“People who were given job offers who started the paperwork process, their papers are going to be stuck,” Harris said.
However, Harris said the hiring process involves a series of steps which include a physical and a drug test. She said she hopes she can keep prospective employees moving forward with the additional steps and hopefully the system would have been repaired by the time the prospective employees are ready to work on their background checks.
A WSMR employee whose security clearance is up for renewal said he is hoping the system will be back up again by the time his security clearance is set to expire. He said he works regularly with the Test Center and relies heavily on his security clearance.
“There are many duties that I perform on a daily basis that will have to cease,” the employee said.
Currently, the newest guidance Harris has received does not allow for hard copy SF-85s and SF-86 to be used as substitutes for the online system. Harris said they are still waiting for a workaround to be implemented throughout the Army.