Security Clearance Process

"Classified-Classified" vs. "B.S. Classified"

I never realized that when it comes to classified information it’s not just “top secret” “secret” and “confidential” – based on a recent assessment from the Pentagon press pool there’s also “classified-classified” and “B.S. classified.”

The topic came up in a recent Pentagon press briefing with Bloomberg reporter Tony Capaccio questioning Pentagon spokesman George Little regarding an anti-leak memorandum released by the Pentagon last week. Cappacio noted that the idea of classification had become “a joke” and asked what defense officials were going to do to distinguish “classified-classified versus B.S. classified” – as he put it.

It’s the same debate on overclassification, different scenario. With congress hotly debating the repercussions for leaks in the wake of some widespread and high-profile breaches – and putting the press on the hot seat for publishing classified information –  those on the other side of the argument continue to cry “overclassification” not “leak.”

Reporters aren’t the first to charge the government with overclassification. The FAS Project on Government Secrecy has been accusing the government of overclassifying information for years. Members of congress and the Government Accountability Office have also argued that overclassification is a drain on the system, reduces transparency and costs millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

It’s a tough argument in the era of Wikileaks. Some are urging that classification reform would actually reduce the instance of breaches, with less information to steal, clearer protocols, and more transparency. Others argue that the risks demand more caution before releasing even potentially sensitive materials.

Congress has shifted focus from overclassification to leaks, with 12 provisions in the 2013 Intelligence Authorization bill related to unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The provisions are largely procedural changes and clarifications on what cleared personnel can and can’t do. None get at what is considered the heart of the issue for many – offering clearer protocols for the declassification of information and reducing the amount of classified information – “B.S.” or otherwise.

Comment Archive

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    Everyone knows that things don’t get serious until you get to the Double Secret Classified level.

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    The classified world has lost it’s way. Most of the DoD uses classified computer systems to do powerpoint slides….etc….NOT even classified work.

    Better for the admin to start with the over-classification kick during the election year. I really love how we have gone to playing politics with national security. This comment is non-partisan….I’m BW and I approve this message.

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    I can’t tell you how many periodic reinvestigations I do on people who never touch classified information. When sources are asked if the subject has demonstrated the ability to properly safeguard sensitive or classified information, the response is “oh, they don’t have any dealings with classified information”. Um, okay…

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    Sources always tell me “yes” to that question. You know which sources have a “no” answer to this question? The ones not calling me back. Or the one out of a hundred gutsy enough to… be a protected source.

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    Could you please inform me on the definition of;

    OPM Adjudication: Q, F, W, N, K (these are different adjudications from different investigations)

    This information shows on the 79A investigative form

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    I think my head just assploded.

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    If your head assplodes, refer to paragraph, Section A, appendix II, EO 12471, and your field training manual for guidance. If that doesn’t correct the issue, refer to the e-mail message that extends chapter 4 and outlines corrective measures for assploding.

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      That was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard…and exactly right.

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    rrl_1979: Call OPM FIS’s FOIA office and ask for a definition of the codes, I would be curious to see what kind of answer they don’t give you.

    The number is (724) 794-5612 EXTENSION 7000.

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    Well USIS has just lost another CEO.

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    Do tell. Wasn’t the British lady the most recent one?

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    Funny, I just don’t get it. This industry would be a cake-walk to operate if folks would just chill and show a bit of appreciation for their FI’s. Greed has completely destroyed this industry.

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    The British lady is the CEO of Altegrity, USIS’ parent company. Peter Masanotti was the USIS CEO. The Altegrity CEO is now the acting CEO of USIS in addition to her role as Altegrity CEO. My sources at our HQ just said he was not a good fit for the company.

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    Yeah, whenever the reason for leaving is followed by “effective immediately” it usually means fired/termed/let go

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    Just got word USIS lost the ICE contract to CSC.

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    USIS first loses the OS contract to Omnisec, now the ICE contract to CSC? Wow, what a mess.

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    Wow, it’s my understanding that CSC doesn’t even have a very beefed up investigator workforce. Things are getting crazy everywhere it seems.

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    The thing with the new contracts is, I believe: Doesn’t matter how big your staff is. I think work filters to whoever finishes work the fastest within quality guidelines. I will agree that things sure have changed–not sure for the better.

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    The email we got about losing the ICE contract indicated CSC under bid USIS. I did not even know CSC had a investigator work force at all.

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    Looks like me and you got the same email at about 8pm this evening.

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    I was able to get specifics a while back. I did see the one you are referring to and it was decent of them to share the info with everyone–I’ll give them props for that. Sometimes giving the troops a better picture goes a long way–your thoughts?

    I think somehwhere along the line, something will be modified as they can’t keep doing pushes without burning everyone out.

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    The game is definitely changing. CSC doesn’t pay much. CACI doesn’t pay much. USIS and Keypoint both seem to be having some…challenges… USIS doesn’t understand that they can’t treat their contractors like employees. Keypoint seems to be experiencing some growing pains. I may need to look into getting out of the game. With the companies bidding lower and lower labor rates, it may not make sense to keep doing this type of work.

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    I work 50 hours per week and claim only 40 hours. With the greater demands of my company (not CSC) lately I plan to increase my hours to 60 each week. Next life I’ll be sure to get a marketable degree.

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    Guess it shows how little I know–never knew CSC was even a contender in this business.

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    Speaking of, who is this MSM that I’ve heard referred to a few times?

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    Looks like the OS Customer has rescinded the Sherlock contract and USIS will continue to work on the contract until the end of 04/13.

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    Investigator- wow! I know of two people in Omni’s process to get cleared for that project. They are going to be bummed.

    V.S. Investigator- MSM is a smaller subcontractor (I believe). They pay on par with CACI but have a computer system where you can pick and choose your work as a contractor. Not sure if they have investigator employees, I only know contractors who work for them. They have a decent presence in the Ft. Meade area in MD and work in VA as well.

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    I believe MSM was the first Contract Investigations Supplier. They had a contract with the Air Force as far back as the early 1980’s, maybe earlier. I think ownership changed hands once or twice and they never seemed to become a major player after USIS was created and some other companies piled in.

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    I learned some very interesting news today if I interpreted it right. We had a telecon with the USIS CEO, USIS Investigations Division President and a Director involved in our Investigations Division (I am not sure his exact title). After the telecon there was a Q & A session. A question was asked about the massive amount of investigators who went to KGS in the March/April time frame of this year and the fact some came back to USIS with a promotion and a significant raise given to them so they would come back. The question was how does this affect moral with the investigators who stayed with USIS but did not get a raise. The answer given was something to the effect USIS needed to do what it had to do or USIS would have been in trouble. The impression I got was if USIS did not get the investigators back then USIS would not have been able to handle the workload OPM was giving and USIS would have gone out of business. That was a big eye opener for me. I was one of the lucky ones and did get a significant raise because I stayed yet many did not. Again this was the impression I got from what was said. If another on here was on the same telecon and got a different impression please post as I could have misunderstood.

  29. Avatar

    Very interesting.

    About a month after I started with KGS, I was contacted by USIS and asked to name my price to come back. I made up what I thought was an absurd number given when I had been getting paid at USIS. A couple days later they said that would be just fine and had me come in for an interview. I interviewed with the DM (or regional director, or whatever it’s called now) of the region I had just left. He said they’d pay me what I asked, but that I’d be expected to perform at the senior investigator level based on USIS’s stats system (I was an Associate Investigator when I left). Given that I had not been deemed worthy of promotion before I left, it seemed odd that my value in USIS’s eyes had suddenly risen so substantially in such a short period of time. Of course, I knew why: they wanted to lure people back from KGS.

    Based on my appraisal of my own skills and knowledge about how realistic USIS’ performance metrics are, it seemed very unlikely to me that I’d be able to meet produce senior investigator-level numbers. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure and/or demotion after a few months, so I declined their offer and stayed with KGS. Haven’t regretted it for a second.

    I’ve wondered since whether they weren’t basically setting a trap for returning investigators – Offer them a bunch of money to come back with increased/unrealistic expectations that were unlikely to be met and then bring their salaries back down if/when they fail to meet those numbers. I would be interested to fine out how many of those who got a bunch of money to come back are still making that much 6-12 months later.

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    There are times the only way to increase salaries is to jump from company to company. These companies realize we are some of the most difficult positions to fill in almost any industry–not just the learning curve, but folks likes us that deal with daily changes in processes are hard to find–at least one’s that will adapt.

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    I’ve been doong this work for many years as a contractor. Pay now is pretty much where it was when I started. My understanding from speaking with people in the know who work on the proposals is that the labor rates being bid keep decreasing. Therre are a few companies out there that I won’t work for because it’s just not worth it financially. Unfortunately it seems like our skills aren’t very marketable outside of this industry.

    That being said, the flexibility makes up for most of the negative stuff…

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    I agree–the only reason I keep the job is flexibility. Hey, I even gave-up the cushy govt job to come back. I will never be able to work in any office environment.

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    I too have been doing this work for many years and I agree that the flexibility and the working from home has been what has kept me here. I am also an independent contractor. I started as an employee for two of the companies and then decided that independent contracting was the way to go. The money can be decent in my area if I work a specific case type in a centralized area. But that depends on the workload as it can be up and down. I wish I had left this work a few years back. At that time, I enjoyed the job. The ever changing climate in this business just doesn’t make the job worth it anymore. It is a challenge to have a work/life balance and make any money. I am looking very hard to get out of this work. I know it might mean a pay cut, but I want a life outside of work.

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    Yeah, the flexibility is the best part of this job– as well as not having to go into an office at 8 am. And it is a job that allows to work on yourself, to improve on some of the most valuable assets anyone can possess: speaking, conversing, listening, showing confidence, acting confident. And not to mention the other extremely valuable assets: organization, self-discipline, thoroughness, et al. But of course, these things are offset by having constant, pressing work hanging over you, constant changes, scrambling to get things done on tighter and tighter deadlines, relying on sources getting back to you pronto, et al. In my last job when I left for the day my work was over. Now I wake up at 2 or 3 am and question whether that case is due today or tomorrow– if today, I will need to try to get it before the scheduled SPIN so maybe I should… Work is good, but work that is constantly changing and gnawing away at your subconscious is unhealthy. But it is healthier than no job.

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    Although not directly related to the BI’s most of us do, I thought y’all might find this interesting from an investigator perspective.

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    Great article. The mind will play serious tricks on folks when pressured even when you are pretty righteous.

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    Altegrity (holding company for USIS, HireRight, Kroll Advisory Solutions and Kroll Ontrack) is in the hot seat AGAIN. And the hits just keep on coming!

    “HireRight to pay $2.6 million; FTC says firm failed to verify background checks”

    “A company that screens prospective employees for thousands of firms nationwide agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle charges that it did not take adequate steps to verify the accuracy of criminal background checks.

    The civil penalty to be paid by Oklahoma-based HireRight Solutions is the second largest obtained by the Federal Trade Commission for violations of the law that governs use of consumer information, including data gathered to determine job eligibility.”

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    Most of these so-called background companies rely way too much on those horrible internet searches. The info in the databases is only as good as the folks retrieving the info. Nothing can replace the good ole local PD and court check. These companies will never be able to see local warrants issued as anybody with prior LE experience will tell you–this info is not fed to NCIC or anywhere outside of the county unless it is very serious.

    How many of you have had to wait at a court terminal for one of those so-called info collectors for these type of companies? I’ve had to, many times, tell them others have work to do as well–time to hurry-up.

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    Anyone know who to contact at CSC to apply for contracting B.I. positions. I have tried to contact CSC but no one has returned my email contact

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    Far as I can tell, they have nothing posted for hire except review/assign staff.

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    Very Special Investigator,

    MSM Security Services out of Greenbelt, MD was purchased by ManTech International some time in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. They intended to get in the OPM background investigations game, using mainly subcontractors. Some time about 2004 ManTech shut down MSM operations – due to lack of work or revenue – or both, I suppose. Eventually they sold MSM off to another company sometime about 2006.

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    I happened upon this site, while searching for CSC. I thought I was at the wrong website since I saw absolutely no posting about investigators(employes or contractors). I am a contractor for MSM, who held my ICE creds, and I received an email to return them. I was checking CSC’s website to make contact to find out about transferring before I return them to MSM. I have some time before they are due, so in the meantime, I will attempt phone contact to CSC to try and reach someone that way.

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    Apply for their assign/review staff which has been posted. Even if you don’t want it–your resume will be in front of them and I bet they call you.

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    Can anyone help me better understand exactly what the Omniplex Sherlock contract is? Have they officially won the award?

    What is OS? Is this a similar background investigator position to OPM?

    Any feedback on Omniplex? The position I am processing for is a contract investigator, I assume it is similar to the OPM investigators who have done my multiple backgrounds.

    Thanks for any info.

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    I have the same questions as former 50. I have been hired by Omniplex for this contract, too. If I find out, I will let you know.

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    I worked as an independent contractor from 1/2007 to 6/2009 then was hired as an employee with KGS. In 4/2012 USIS lured me away with false promises of an 8 hour day and more money. I was let go at the beginning of 2013 because I couldn’t keep up with the ACD and quality requirements. I am still unemployed but am waiting to hear from Omnisec about working on the Sherlock contract.

    I would have stayed with KGS but all my supervisor did was yell at me. I heard he left shortly thereafter…….if only I had known.