Congress and Security Clearances

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 5 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #179188

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Reminds me of the “good ole days” when it was somewhat standard procedure to drag the investigation program over the coals….

    Some relevance to the current Snowden issue especially regarding the clearance issued to Mr. Snowden

    Hearing by Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce and the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight

    Safeguarding our Nation’s Secrets: Examining The Security Clearance Process

    The purpose of the hearing was to review how the federal government conducts investigations to determine whether federal employees and contractors are eligible for access to classified information. Since 2005, when the Department of Defense transferred the investigative function of its security clearance investigations to the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Investigative Services Division, a number of reforms have been implemented to decrease the backlog of clearance requests and to improve the timeliness and quality of investigations.

    However, a number of issues persist that compromise these efforts, including insufficient information-sharing or reciprocity between government agencies, limited information technology capabilities, and a lack of appropriate oversight over the process and those conducting investigations.

    The hearing examined the management and oversight of the federal employees and contractors responsible for planning, conducting, and reviewing investigations and issuing security clearances. It also examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the security clearance process.

    opening statement for Patrick E. McFarland
    Inspector General U.S. Office of Personnel Management

    Opening Statement for Stephen F. Lewis
    Deputy Director, Security Directorate, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence)
    U.S. Department of Defense

    Opening Statement for Brenda S. Farrell
    Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
    U.S. Government Accountability Office

    90 minute video of the hearing

  • #179193

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    GAO report directly related to this hearing…

    In July 2012, GAO reported that the Director of National Intelligence, as Security Executive Agent, had not provided agencies clearly defined policy and procedures to consistently determine whether a civilian position required a security clearance. Underdesignating positions can lead to security risks; overdesignating positions can result in significant cost implications. Also, GAO reported that the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense (DOD) components’ officials were aware of the need to keep the number of security clearances to a minimum but were not always required to conduct periodic reviews and validations of the security clearance needs of existing positions. GAO recommended that, among other things, the Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Director of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other executive branch agencies as appropriate, issue clearly defined policies and procedures to follow when determining if federal civilian positions require a security clearance, and also guidance to require executive branch agencies to periodically review and revise or validate the designation of all federal civilian positions. The Director of National Intelligence concurred with GAO’s recommendations and identified actions to implement them.

    Executive branch agency efforts to improve the personnel security process have emphasized timeliness but not quality. In May 2009, GAO reported that with respect to initial top secret clearances adjudicated in July 2008, documentation was incomplete for most of OPM investigative reports. GAO independently estimated that 87 percent of about 3,500 investigative reports that DOD adjudicators used to make clearance decisions were missing required documentation. In May 2009, GAO recommended that the Director of OPM direct the Associate Director of OPM’s Federal Investigative Services to measure the frequency with which its investigative reports met federal investigative standards in order to improve the completeness–that is, quality–of future investigation documentation. As of March 2013, however, OPM had not implemented this recommendation.

    Government-wide personnel security reform efforts have not yet focused on potential cost savings, even though the stated mission of these efforts includes improving cost savings. For example, OPM’s investigation process–which represents a portion of the security clearance process and has significant costs–has not been studied for process efficiencies or cost savings. In February 2012, GAO reported that OPM received over $1 billion to conduct more than 2 million background investigations in fiscal year 2011. GAO raised concerns that OPM may be simultaneously investing in process streamlining technology while maintaining a less efficient and duplicative paper-based process. In 2012, GAO recommended that, to improve the efficiency of suitability and personnel security clearance background investigation processes that could lead to cost savings, the Director of OPM direct the Associate Director of Federal Investigative Services to take actions to identify process efficiencies that could lead to cost savings within its background investigation process. OPM agreed with this recommendation and GAO is working with OPM to assess any progress it has made in this area.

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