Re-naming and Re-alignment of the U.S. Defense Security Service

Cybersecurity and Privacy Alert

Client Alert


If you hold a personal security clearance, or your business maintains a U.S. facility security clearance, then you need to be aware that the Defense Security Service (DSS) has recently been re-named, re-aligned and re-organized – with new leadership and broader responsibilities.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13869, "Transferring Responsibility for Background Investigations to the Department of Defense," the Acting Secretary of Defense has renamed the former DSS to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).

The DCSA will now serve as the primary U.S. government agency responsible for conducting background investigations for the federal government, as well as the primary Department of Defense (DoD) agency responsible for the National Industrial Security Program (NISPOM). The DCSA will be specifically responsible for the work previously conducted by the DSS relating to vetting and insider threat programs, as well as any new national security responsibilities assigned by the Secretary of Defense.

The re-naming and re-organization was effective as of June 20, 2019, with Charles Phalen, Jr. named as the Acting Director of the DCSA. Mr. Phalen is currently the Director of the National Background Investigations Bureau and will continue to hold that position until a permanent DCSA Director is appointed.

It is currently unclear how the re-organization will affect ongoing submissions, processes, procedures and systems. Additional information and guidance is available on the DCSA’s website.