GAO Testimony on Personnel Security Clearances
On December 1, 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) presented testimony before a House subcommittee. The testimony was presented in the form of a report (GAO-11-232T) entitled: “Personnel Security Clearances: Overall Progress Has Been Made to Reform the Governmentwide Security Clearance Process.” The testimony covered 3 major long standing issues: a single federal database for clearance information, reciprocity, and timeliness.
The “Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004” (IRTPA) “required that no later than 12 months after the date of its enactment, the Director of OPM and the Director of OMB establish and commence operating and maintaining a single, integrated database of security clearance information.” No single integrated database exists or is planned. Instead, OPM’s Central Verification System (CVS) provides a “single search” capability for about 90% of all investigations and clearances. Integrating the remaining 10% of Intelligence Community (IC) clearances remains problematic.
Government agencies reported requiring additional investigation and/or adjudication on some currently cleared individuals for reasons that are not permitted by existing reciprocity rules. Due to the absence of government-wide metrics for reciprocity, GAO was unable to measure the degree of non-compliance with clearance reciprocity requirements.
GAO acknowledged that significant improvements in timeliness of clearances had been made and that overall timeliness requirements of the IRTPA had been met. GAO noted that of the agencies they reviewed DOD, DOE, and NGA had consistently met the 60-day IRPTA requirement during the first three quarters of FY2010 (October 2009 to June 2010), and 11 other agencies had not. A chart on page 7 of GAO-11-232T reported timeliness for seven IC agencies and seven non-IC agencies.