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New federal body to oversee personnel background checks

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 23, 2016 at 6:58 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- After the Office of Personnel Management was hacked last year, the White House has announced a new agency will conduct background checks for federal employees with the help of the Pentagon.

The National Background Investigations Bureau will conduct the roughly 600,000 annual background checks for new or renewed security clearances, The Washington Post reported. The agency will be headed by a presidential appointee, and will take over for OPM's Investigative Services Branch.

The Defense Department will take over storing sensitive information on federal employees.

Michael Daniel, Cybersecurity Coordinator of the National Security Council, told The Post there is no official timeline for the shift, but some changes will happen before the end of 2016.

The Obama administration will request $95 million for Defense to support the changes, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The Hill reported last year's hack exposed the personal information of more than 22 million people, including 4.2 million federal employees. The data included social security numbers, criminal and financial records and previous employment history, among other things.

In December, the Chinese government said it had arrested several hackers believed to be responsible for the breach. However, as The Post reported at the time, their identities were not revealed, and it was not clear whether or not the individuals had any connection with the Chinese government.

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