Security Clearance Reform Going Into 2023
In 2022 we saw big changes in the way the government vets security clearance applicants and those already cleared. Reinvestigations are a thing of the past, replaced by continuous vetting or evaluation, and the previous five tier background investigation is now three tiers with the ability to move inter-changeably from nonsensitive to sensitive positions. Trusted Workforce (TW) 2.0 is the current buzzword involving continuous monitoring across all government agencies and applies to all civil service employees and contractors, not just those that need security clearances.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in collaboration with the Office of Personnel Management and the Defense Counterintelligence Agency (DCSA), has published intermediary milestones regarding actions needed to meet TW 2.0 for all agencies to meet for their workforce. Government agencies are required to enroll their employees in their own established Continuous Evaluation (CE) program or into DCSA’s CE program. There are also other requirements such as enrollment into DCSA’s Rap Back which matches up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files to see if someone associated with a government agency gets arrested. This generates an alert to the responsible agency that an individual working under their umbrella was arrested for something and a review or action might be needed.
The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has some new requirements for Intelligence Community (IC) agencies which have been notorious for their lengthy timelines in processing potential employees for clearances. One specific requirement is for IC agencies to reduce their clearance processing timeline to less than 180 days. The NDAA also calls for those agencies who use polygraphs to conduct a review as to whether it is actually a credible tool for vetting or if alternatives could be used in lieu of the current one-to-eighteen-month wait for processing.