Cover: Criminal History Record Information Sharing with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency

Criminal History Record Information Sharing with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency

Education and Training Materials for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Partners

Published Sep 7, 2022

by Douglas C. Ligor, Shawn D. Bushway, Maria McCollester, Richard H. Donohue, Devon Hill, Marylou Gilbert, Heather Gomez-Bendaña, Daniel Kim, Annie Brothers, Melissa Bauman, et al.


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Research Questions

  1. What current education and training needs of SLTT law enforcement agencies should be addressed to help facilitate CHRI sharing with DCSA?
  2. What types of education and training materials would be most effective in assisting SLTT law enforcement agencies to meet their obligations to share CHRI with DCSA?

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) is the federal agency responsible for conducting the background investigations and personnel vetting for 95 percent of the federal workforce, including current and prospective federal government employees and contractors. DCSA collects relevant criminal history record information (CHRI) as part of these investigations from federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. SLTT organizations, however, are often unaware of DCSA's role, responsibilities, and authorities and unaccustomed to CHRI collection and federal background investigations generally. This lack of awareness can impede or delay DCSA's collection of CHRI. In turn, it can slow the investigation and vetting process for federal employees and contractors.

To help address this challenge, Congress authorized DCSA to provide training and education assistance to SLTT communities in 2020 to streamline and improve access to historical criminal record data. DCSA then requested assistance from the RAND Corporation's National Defense Research Institute with developing educational and training materials to use in support of these activities. The objective of these materials is to develop and deepen SLTT agencies' knowledge and understanding of their federal statutory obligations to share CHRI with DCSA and to facilitate more effective and efficient CHRI sharing. The intent of these materials is to help create a more robust partnership between DCSA and the more than 18,000 law enforcement and criminal justice agencies nationwide. This report presents these materials and the underlying research conducted to build them.

Key Findings

  • Current and past materials have inconsistent branding — often using branding of the prior organizations that carried out the background investigative mission before DCSA — which creates confusion for SLTT law enforcement agency (LEA) personnel.
  • Current and past materials contain information gaps that result in confusion or lack of understanding by SLTT LEAs regarding DCSA's mission, responsibilities, authorities, procedures and processes, and CHRI needs.
  • CHRI is not defined consistently by federal and SLTT LEA personnel, which results in different interpretations of what information is covered and, in turn, what information SLTTs are willing to share.
  • Interpersonal skills matter. Forming and maintaining relationships with SLTT LEA personnel is an important aspect of CHRI sharing.
  • A diverse set of training materials that can be used in different circumstances would best meet DCSA's needs.
  • DCSA and SLTT LEA personnel are trained on CHRI information sharing via different venues; education and training materials need to be useful for a variety of circumstances.
  • DCSA staff could use materials to educate SLTT LEA personnel about their legal obligation to provide CHRI to DCSA.

This research was sponsored by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency's (DCSA) Law Enforcement Liaison Office (LELO) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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