Security Clearance Process

Secure Web Fingerprint Transmission (SWFT)

A February 18, 2009 article at BusinessWire reported that ATS Corporation (ATSC) was awarded a new $6 million contract with the Defense Security Service (DSS) for the Secure Web Fingerprint Transmission (SWFT) system.

ATSC will develop, deploy and maintain a web-enabled biometric system to transmit electronic fingerprints to DSS and the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) as part of the security clearance background investigation process.

The SWFT system will enable federal contractors to submit electronic fingerprints and identifying information for security clearance applicants. A pilot project for the system was conducted in 2008. Implementation and deployment of the new system will begin this year.

Comment Archive

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    Well it seems that another small piece of the JSSRT’s plan is falling into place–remember the implementation of eAdjudication at the Army’s Central Clearance Facility in December. When money is appropriated and obligated to implement components of something that is still largely just a plan, it’s reasuring that progress is actually being made.

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    In all your years, have you ever seen this much confusion on the process as we have now. Most (If not all) of us in the field are in the dark as to the future–I read the info out there and what you have provided, but still remain in a “Fog.” I know changes produce some confusion, but………….?

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    To those of us on the outside it looks like a real cluster. . . and I don’t even know what is being told to the investigators thru their respective organizations. But I think that most of the confusion exists primarily because of all the information that is available thru the internet. In late 1991 when the BI and the SBI were scrapped in favor of the SSBI, most of us in the field knew little about the battle between DoD and the IC that had been going on for months and months about the change or the shape of things to come. At the time I worked at a place that trained intelligence personnel. In late 1991 there were 2 of us there and we did a total of about 40 to 50 issue Subject Interviews a month (plus other case work). By summer 1992 we had 6 investigators plus TDY personnel plus contract investigators conducting investigations on the same population of clearance applicants, because of the increase in Subject Interviews due to the SSBI. We were not aware of the impending change until Nov 91 and no one either believed our workload projections or simply chose to ignore them until they actually materialized. Of course it was impossible to add staff rapidly and with the 6 month delay we fell way behind. The effects of change can be moderated when there is sufficient preparation in the field, but HQ types usually think they know it all and rarely ask field personnel for input.

    All the elements of the JSSRT plan will be implemented piecemeal over the next 18 months or so. I was really disappointed with the wording of the DNI’s 704 series policy documents. They are more confusing than previous policy documents and really do nothing to improve understanding, uniformity, or reciprocity. I hope that the new DNI will exercise more of the authority that was granted to him in last June’s executive order and revise the 704 series policy documents.

    When all the dust settles, I think that field investigative work will be reduced by about 25% even though the new process seems to suggest a greater savings in that area. I think that a higher percentage of cases will be expanded for issue resolution and the scope of the expansion will be greater than it is now. Now that investigative turnaround time has been significantly reduced, adjudicators will be less hessitant to return cases to the field for better coverage and issue resolution. Investigators are fairly good at identifying and exploring potentially disqualifying conditions, but they have generally lacked sufficient training on mitigating factors. I think there are too many cases where applicants are rightly granted a clearance after submitting a rebuttal to an SOR, because the investigator failed to elicit all the mitigating information from the applicant either during a PRSI or a SPIN. So improvement in this area will also necessitate longer Subject Interviews and additional field work.

    Just my humble opinion.

    Semper Gumby,