Among the proposals on the table as Congress looks to reform the security clearance process in the wake of the Navy Yard Shooting – better cooperation with local law enforcement, continuous monitoring, and allowing background investigators to use the Internet when conducting background investigations.
This week the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the findings of a new 44-page report outlining the flaws in the security clearance process.
ClearanceJobs.com founder and Managing Director Evan Lesser discussed the proposed reforms on Federal News Radio. “The current process has been tuned for speed,” he noted. “…While the backlog was greatly reduced, many now think quality was sacrificed for quantity.”
OPM noted that 31 percent of security clearance investigation reports contain deficiencies. Applicant histories are often more complex than ever, requiring clarifications and additional manpower, which isn’t a part of the equation when trying to submit a report on a deadline.
Continuous monitoring is among the proposed reforms, and is getting support from the Federal Investigative Services.
“We think that’s the future of background investigations, where you don’t ever close a case, “ said FIS Associate Director Merton Miller.
The obvious challenges in continuous monitoring? Privacy and budget. Lesser noted that will require technology that is ‘expensive and unbudgeted.’
Some are asking if the answer is simply to reduce the number of personnel who hold clearances.
“The issue isn’t how many people hold clearances, but are the clearance holders cleared to the correct level and does their job still require a security clearance?” Lesser argued. He pointed to reciprocity and technological advances as being one way to help make the security clearance more efficient, and help ensure that those who have security clearances truly need them, and aren’t ‘holding onto’ a clearance because of the administrative headache of being re-cleared.