Background InvestigationsObtaining Security Clearance

GAO Report on DOD Security Clearances

On 20 May 2009 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report (GAO-09-400) on Department of Defense (DoD) security clearances, announcing, “Comprehensive timeliness reporting, complete clearance documentation, and quality measures are needed to further improve the clearance process.”

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and DoD, the top 90% of initial security clearances for DoD personnel took an average of 124 days to process in 2008. GAO came up with a number different than OPM and DoD, but they measured processing time in terms of the percentage of cases that took more than 120 days. GAO also found that 87% of Top Secret clearances adjudicated in July 2008 were missing one or more elements required by the national investigative standards.

The report is a follow-up to a 19 December 2008 GAO report (GAO-09-261R), DoD Personnel Clearances: Preliminary Observations about Timeliness and Quality. The new report provides more details regarding GAO’s findings from their earlier report. Interestingly, the new report alludes to the February 2009 annual report required by Title III of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA), but this report has not been made publicly available on the internet.

Comment Archive

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    These reports are greatly skewed and do not explain why documents were missing. The reports are damming to the process and will never show how many places no longer willing to assist investigators–but with today’s “Sue Happy” mentality I cannot blame anyone. I think they should spend less on studies and more on staffing this process. I’m betting at least a million-dollars was spent on this way too long report. I know…blah..blah..blah. with our new turnaround time, there will be more and more things lacking in the case. Again, I only get 14 days to work and report. At a guess, most times about 90 percent of neighbor refe’s and social refe’s take about 14 days to return our calls.

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    IMHO GAO is bean counting without considering what’s important, what’s not important, and what’s not even possible. One of their criticisms from the original report had to do with missing PRSIs, which no one would deny is a very important component of an SSBI. I think that somewhere buried in the footnotes was a comment that most of the PRSIs were not conducted because the Subject was deployed to the Middle East. If a military Subject is deployed, that means his supervisor, coworkers and buddies are all deployed with him and none of them will be available for interview for up to a year or more (if they survive). I’m not sure what GAO expects in this situation. They obviously failed to take into account that under combat conditions or other military exigencies security clearances requirements can be waived by DOD.

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    Dead-on the money. I will say that OPM has been doing pretty well getting the PRSI’s scheduled-out quickly upon return from deployment. Problem is, Military Security managers do not report returns as they should. Not their fault, Security Manager work in most units is either an extra-duty or they are not properly trained. We know there will be thousands of cases with at least a document or record missing, comes with the territory and this will never change no matter how many studies/reports they do. I wish they would have some investigators in to meet and report what actually happens in the field so we can bring some commen sense in.

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    Or common sense.