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Clearance Reform "news" story
October 8, 2009 at 10:02 am #82519
Feds’ personnel security-clearances process risks ‘losing momentum,’ GAO warns
By Louis Chunovic, Senior Editor
Published October 6th, 2009
Recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) testimony to Congress warns that the effort to reform and streamline the federal government’s personnel security-clearances process is “at risk of losing momentum and not being fully implemented. In addition to limited visibility over timeliness of clearances, the executive branch's annual reports to Congress on the personnel security clearance process have provided decision makers with limited data on quality, and the executive branch has missed opportunities to make the clearance process transparent to Congress.”
The October 1 testimony, before the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management of the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, by Brenda S. Farrell, director, defense capabilities and management, called on the Joint Reform Team, charged with reforming the security clearances process, to establish a “method for evaluating the progress of the reform efforts,” which, she added, has not yet been done.
The Joint Reform Team, which includes “entities within the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Department of Defense--was established in 2007 by the Director of National Intelligence and the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) through a Memorandum of Agreement to execute personnel security clearance joint reform efforts,” according to the testimony.
Farrell also noted that GAO “independently estimated” that “87 percent of about 3,500 investigative reports” used to make clearance decisions, “for initial top secret clearances adjudicated in July 2008, were missing required documentation.”
The GAO official’s testimony, citing officials from the Joint Reform Team, also noted that about 2.4 million people -- “excluding some of those with clearances who work in areas of national intelligence -- currently hold clearances, and that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) conducted about 750,000 national security investigations in fiscal year 2008.
Farrell also found that “initial joint reform efforts have, in part, aligned with key practices that we have identified for organizational transformations, such as having committed leadership and a dedicated implementation team, but [previous] reports issued by the Joint Reform Team do not provide a strategic framework that contains other important elements of a successful transformation, such as a mission statement and long-term goals with related outcome-focused performance measures to show progress, and do not identify obstacles to progress and possible remedies.”
In her testimony, Farrell identified “several factors key to reforming the clearance process. These include (1) developing a sound requirements determination process, (2) engaging in governmentwide reciprocity, (3) building quality into every step of the process, (4) consolidating information technology, and (5) identifying and reporting long-term funding requirements.”
Finally, she noted that OMB, DoD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) all “partially concurred” with aspects of the GAO report on the need for a “strategic framework” for personnel security clearances.
Copyright 2009 World Business Media, LLC
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