Why the Government is Retiring JPAS for DISS, and What It Means

EDITORS NOTE as of 12/28/2020: DCSA has announced the extension of the transition period for JPAS to DISS (click here for more information). 

As a result of the ongoing extension of the JPAS to DISS transition, Access Commander will continue to support JPAS until the transition has taken place.

With the end of 2020 right around the corner, big changes are coming for FSOs and cleared individuals: after 12 years of waiting and a number of false starts, the DCSA is finally ready to retire the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) in favor of the Defense Information System for Security (DISS). By the end of December, support for JPAS will be officially discontinued, and those who have prepared will likely experience a smooth transition to the new system.

For government partners who haven’t prepared, there’s still time, but they need to act quickly. Once the end of the year comes, anyone who hasn’t transferred their login credentials and records to the DISS will be left without access to a database for security clearances on Jan. 1st of 2021 – that’s only one month away. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between JPAS and DISS for those outside the loop and explore the implications for government partners.

The Next Step in Trusted Workforce 2.0

Since 2018, the government has made great strides towards reducing a historically high backlog for background investigations which delayed processing for clearance requests by over a year in some cases. In 2019, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) merged with the DoD’s Defense Security Agency (DSS) which has since been rebranded as the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).

As soon as it was formed, the DCSA took off running with the implementation of Trusted Workforce 2.0, a new framework meant to expedite the clearance process and solve numerous hurdles to faster background checks. Since then, the agency has achieved its “steady state” goal of 250,000 active investigations in the clearance backlog or less – but there are still improvements to be made, and the switch from JPAS is one that has been on the docket for a long time.

What is JPAS?

JPAS was conceived and developed by the DoD in the 1990s as a system of record to store clearance eligibility decisions and access to classified information, and it has continued to serve that purpose for the past two decades. While individuals applying for security clearances interact with JPAS through the eAPP and eQIP applications, FSOs have been able to access it through an online portal.

By now, JPAS is legacy software, and its limitations have made it difficult for government agencies and their partners to access the system and verify records in a timely manner, particularly as the government transitions to continuous evaluation (CE). These are the circumstances that prompted the development of DISS.

What is DISS?

In response to the shortcomings of JPAS, the DoD began development of DISS in 2008. The system was intended to be more robust, flexible and user friendly, providing superior adjudication, recording and verification functions. Since then, “bumps in the road” have hindered the official transition to DISS on more than one occasion (originally, it was meant to be finished in 2017).

By now, the Defense Department has completed successful trials of DISS across select agencies, and since it has settled on December as the final deadline, we can assume that all of its bugs have been ironed out. This is good news considering the benefits that DISS will ultimately provide FSOs and cleared individuals.

What the DISS Transition Means for You

With the rollout of DISS, the public-facing eAPP and eQIP applications will be consolidated by the National Industrial Security System (NISS), and security officers will be able to access it through a new online portal.

Altogether, the new system promises many advantages, and these are just a few:

  • Continuous workflow: DISS provides improved connectivity between FSOs and adjudicating agencies leading to faster reporting decision making
  • Role-based information access: DISS allows organizations to segment access to data based on user roles
  • Documentation support: organizations can now file supporting documentation alongside their clearance requests
  • Improved SF-312 workflow: organizations will no longer be required to send SF-312s by FAX
  • Better security features: DISS suffers less vulnerabilities than JPAS leading to more secure organizations
  • Automatic notifications and alerts as part of continuous evaluation.

Ultimately, DISS should prove to be a robust new system of record for the next generation of clearance applicants, and those who haven’t prepared should get ready quickly.

Be Ready for DISS

With the end of December quickly approaching, MathCraft users can breathe a sigh of relief: Access, Portal, and ViSi Commander have all been updated to handle clearance requests through DISS while providing support for JPAS until it is terminated.

In the latest version of Portal Commander, users will be able to access continuous monitoring reports through the Background Check module and receive alerts when cleared individuals commit infractions as defined by their parent organization.

In 2020, insider threats remain a top risk for government contractors and a primary cause of security incidents in the federal government. DISS is a major piece in the fight to keep high-risk individuals out of cleared facilities, and MathCraft is there to help you along the way.

MathCraft Security Technologies offers a robust product line of NISPOM-compliant security applications for cleared contracts and enterprises. Our solutions are carefully engineered to improve security processes, giving Facility Security Officers (FSOs) and employees the comprehensive tools that they need to manage data, monitor visitors, and automate workflows. For ultimate convenience, they are also available on-premises or via the cloud. Contact us for a demo!