Obtaining Security Clearance

More Security Clearance Legislation

In February 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version (HR 2701) of the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010.  The Senate passed their version (S.1494) in September 2009.  Hopefully the two versions will be reconciled, passed by Congress, and sent to the President.

The House version creates an Ombudsman for Intelligence Community (IC) security clearances in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and requires each IC agency to provide contact information for the ombudsman to all clearance applicants.

The House version also requires the President to submit to Congress within 180 days of enactment a report that includes the feasibility, counterintelligence risk, and cost effectiveness of –

  • by not later than January 1, 2012, requiring the investigation and adjudication of security clearances to be conducted by not more than two Federal agencies; and
  • by not later than January 1, 2015, requiring the investigation and adjudication of security clearance to be conducted by not more than one Federal agency.

Both the creation of an ombudsman for IC clearances and a formal study on reducing the number of investigative and adjudicative agencies seem like excellent ideas.  Both could result in improving clearance reciprocity.  The last time an Intelligence Authorization Act became law was in December 2004.  The ones since then have either died in Congress or been successfully vetoed.  So, this may not be the best vehicle to further these two ideas.

Comment Archive

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    An Ombudsman,

    Are you kidding me!!!! One intermediary will do little except give some crony a new job on our dime. The DNI’s staff should be sufficient. This legislation will stall somewhere real soon. I think some of the 3 digit agencies will be opposed to a single investigative branch. While I agree one branch is a very good idea, I am somewhat pessimistic this will happen.

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    Agree with BW. No way will those guys share the info with each other. I would be very suprised if this actually happens.

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    Consider the plight of the contractor employee who has a valid TS clearance and is selected to work on a project that requires SCI eligibility with Full-Scope polygraph. The person submits an SF86 and undergoes a polygraph exam. Three months later applicant’s program security officer tells the applicant that the government customer has asked the company to withdraw the SCI nomination. The company security officer doesn’t want to argue with government customer, so the employee is not assigned to the project and never told why. The applicant is effectively denied SCI eligibility without formally being denied and therefore has no right to rebut or appeal the decision. This still happens, even though E.O. 12968 (2005), DCID 6/4 (1998), and DNI ICPG 704.3 (2008) give all applicants (including SCI nominees) the right to a detailed written explanation of the denial and the right to rebut and appeal. Without an Ombudsman there is absolutely nothing the applicant can do to protest this action because he/she no longer has a “need” for access.

    BW & Contract Investigator:
    I agree that the likelihood reducing the number of government adjudicative facilities and investigative agencies to 1 or 2 is remote, but I would really like to see their justification for maintaining the status quo. The study could result in a further consolidation of CAFs within a single department, like one CAF for most of DOD (except NSA, DIA, etc) and one for all of DHS.

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    Your points are well taken. I just don’t think anyone cares less what Congress says. These agencies are gonna do what they please as I witness it all the time. Half the time, I believe it is more nepotism and “Hooking-Up” buddies – vs – denial of SCI. Of course they will never admit it.

    I have a good idea–Get rid of DHS all together!!!!!

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    Sounds like there are a continuous stream of legislative diversions surrounding these backgrounds and the CI agencies that handle them. Having recently retired from government work and actually still doing part time investigations for government agencies, I am used to a fair amount of frustration. However, not having done these type of background investigations, I feel like I have learned so much reading your comments on the articles (even if I don’t understand all the industry terms). The honesty on this blog site is very refreshing. I am hoping that some good changes will come and make the investigations less stressful and more rewarding.

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    I agree with you completely. I have learned more from folks on this site than anywhere else. Legislative diversions–Dead on the money. I’m an old hack at this with 5 years, but ask any new investigator about this work–It’s like solving the hardest puzzle you could imagine. We have taken a simple check into someone’s background and turned it into a riddle of sorts.

    Man, I wish they would pay me about $150K–I don’t even need a cool title like “Ombudsman.” Just call me “The guy we call to ask questions.” 🙂

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    On William’s Point:

    Customer Service/Receptionist Position:
    Minimum Security Clearance Requirement: Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI)
    Must be able to pass a CI polygraph examination. That’s for a receptionist with a well known vendor who contracts CIs. What’s to come for the field investigators? Stay tuned…

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    Everyone uses the term SCI loosely. My guess is SCI to some seems very important, when in fact most folks are only SCI eligible and will never be “Read-In.” It’s easier to have SCI eligible folks at the ready in case the contract requires it somewhere. These clearances are why the govt is so inefficient–they just recycle people even if they are the worst workers. It’s seems rare that any new talent enters the workforce. My guess is that the contract is for an Intel agency somewhere and they require SCI, but I guarantee the receptionist and any FI’s will not be SCI cleared and even if they are eligible, there has to be a legitimate need-to-know basis for getting read-in and FI’s do not operate in those waters.