The Pentagon officially took over the federal background-check system, with a newly created Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) inside the Defense Department in charge of clearances for employees and contractors, according to a news report.

The agency will leverage technological security to ensure sensitive information is protected. According to the report, roughly 8,000 employees have now been moved from various federal agencies into DCSA. ”Merging the components into one organization will allow us to execute our two core missions: personnel vetting and critical technology protection, underpinned by counterintelligence and training,” said Charles Phalen Jr., the DCSA’s acting director. 

Defense officials said there is currently a backlog of about 303,000 security clearances — down from high of 725,000 in April 2018, says the report, and officials hope to reduce that number to 200,000 by the end of the 2019.