Security Clearance Reform Again Debated on Capitol Hill
Last week’s Senate hearing on security clearance reform focused on defense contractors and necessary reforms to prevent another Aaron Alexis from falling through the cracks. Several issues are of specific interest to the background investigator community, including proposals to shorten the length of time between periodic reinvestigations; improving technology and increasing the automation involved in the background investigation process; and creating uniform standards of training for background investigators.
Here’s an excerpt from last week’s article on ClearanceJobs.com:
“Our system is obviously broken,” said Ranking Committee Member Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
While the Office of Personnel Management has reviewed Alexis’ background check and confirmed that all applicable standards were complied with when completing his investigation in 2007, agencies are still scrambling to provide Congress with recommendations for reform.
Increasing the frequency of reinvestigations to assess an individual’s continuing eligibility for a security clearance is one proposal by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Currently, reinvestigations are conducted every five years for Top Secret clearances or every ten years for Secret clearances.
“Continuous Evaluation (CE) is a tool that will assist in closing this information gap….CE, as envisioned in the reformed security clearance process, includes automated records checks of commercial databases, government databases, and other information lawfully available,” outlined ODNI. “Manual checks are inefficient and resource intensive.”
ODNI also supports the implementation of “National Training Standards” to create uniform training criteria for background investigators, national security adjudicators, and suitability adjudicators.
Yesterday four Senators introduced a bipartisan bill to bolster the clearance process through an “enhanced security clearance system” to aggregate and store each applicant’s personal information. The bill would also require review of the cleared individual at least two times every five years.