The US government has unveiled plans for the Department of Defence (DoD) to take control of federal background checks following the attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) last year.
Plans have been set in motion to create a new government-wide entity, called the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), which will be accountable to the DoD and will have full oversight on security clearances provided to federal employees.
The Obama administration said in a statement that the new department, which will reportedly request a budget of $95m, will be led by a presidential appointee and will aim to provide "effective, efficient and secure" background investigations for the government.
"Unlike the previous structure, the DoD will assume the responsibility for the design, development, security and operation of the background investigations IT systems for the NBIB," said the statement.
The changes follow a 90-day internal security review after the attack on the OPM, in which over 21.5 million federal records and millions of fingerprint samples of employees past and present were exposed. The investigation into the initial hack is ongoing.
The restructure was announced by a number of high-level government officials, including director of intelligence James Clapper, current OPM boss Beth Cobert and US chief information officer Tony Scott.
Marcel Lettre, under secretary for intelligence at the DoD, told The Washington Post: "We think it's a significant enhancement of our ability to modernise IT effectiveness for cyber security in this area.
"This is a great opportunity to leverage modern cutting-edge tools and systems at the DoD to implement significant reforms to the background investigation process."
No timescale for the plans has yet been outlined, but officials in the US government have indicated that changes will start to roll out over the course of 2016.
The OPM came under fire in July for a data breach that resulted in the loss of millions of names, addresses, Social Security numbers, mental health studies and financial records from a federal database.
The hack, blamed on Chinese hackers by US officials, uncovered sensitive data on everyone who applied for federal employment from as far back as 2000. Even James Comey, director of the FBI, revealed that his data had probably been compromised.
The situation worsened in September when the department revealed that 5.6 million fingerprint records were also stolen by the hackers.
A cyber peace accord with the Chinese government resulted in a number of hackers being arrested in December following a so-called "criminal investigation" of the OPM attack by Chinese police.
The landmark hack was only one of several high-profile breaches last year. Target, Ashley Madison and TalkTalk were all hit by cyber attacks and data theft.
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