A Call for Improving Security Clearance Mobility
The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit trade association made up of senior executives and intelligence experts from public, private, and academic sectors, recently published a white paper identifying the challenges and obstacles getting cleared contractors from one agency or contract to another and recommended solutions to overcome these obstacles. The paper takes an in-depth look at how the DoD and Intelligence Community agencies currently operate and how it impacts the industrial security community and workforce. Here are a few of the obstacles cited in the paper that agencies currently practice:
– Use their own process and performance standards for cases that fall into one of seven exceptions.
– Deprioritize certain polygraphs, with the frequent outcome that polygraphs for some personnel with clearances can take months longer than for those with no clearance at all. The resulting delays do not violate any requirements because agencies have not established timeliness requirements governing how long an agency can take to conduct a polygraph.
– Add suitability or fitness requirements without providing those standards to the contractor causing the contractor to recommend or hire personnel who do not meet the unknown standard.
– Direct a second SCI nomination process, even when a candidate has SCI access at another agency.
– Require individuals to be debriefed by their current sponsoring agency and be briefed back into the exact same information at the new sponsoring agency. In many cases, agencies will not authorize industry to perform this function even though they permit industry to brief employees in and out of collateral Top-Secret access.
These practices can cause delays for weeks up to a year for contractors to get cleared to work. The paper also highlights the many inconstancies between the IC components and how they apply national security standards to the clearance process. Here are some examples cited in the paper:
– The Director of DIA might ask: Why can CIA accept and approve the movement of someone with a TS/SCI clearance and an appropriate polygraph into their agency within 1-3 days, but it takes us 2-4 weeks?
– The Director of the CIA might ask: Why does NSA allow those with counterintelligence (CI) polygraphs to start working before their full scope polygraph is done, but we do not?
– The Secretary of the Navy and the Commandant of the Marine Corps might ask: Why do we require already cleared industry contractors to submit an SCI nomination package containing a copy of their previous investigation request forms and an update to those forms before scheduling indoctrination briefings and onboarding?
The INSA white paper provided many recommendations on how to remove these obstacles in order to streamline processes to improve efficiencies which, in turn, would cut down on delays and enable the cleared contractor workforce to perform mission critical tasks involving national security. Go here to read the entire report.