Self-Sponsorship of Security Clearances?
Many qualified people find themselves unable to successfully compete for federal positions because they don’t have an “active” or “current” security clearance. This situation is often characterized as a “Catch-22” in that you can’t get sponsored for a security clearance without a job offer from a federal agency or contractor, and you often can’t get the job offer without a clearance.
A British IT contractor recently initiated an E-Petition at the UK Prime Minister’s website requesting that individuals be allowed to pay for their own clearances. So far 614 people have signed the petition. An American initiated a similar petition at a non-governmental E-Petition website without suggesting who would pay for the processing and has only gathered 22 signatures. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for “the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The UK Prime Minister’s E-Petition website has existed for over a year, but a similar website for the US President is only now being discussed on a blog page at the White House website.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) conducts about 80% of all federal security clearance investigations. Their current price for a standard NACLC investigation needed for a contractor Secret clearance is $221. Because OPM clearance investigations are handled on a fee-for-service basis, the mechanism exists for individuals to pay for their own investigations, but no mechanism exists to pay for adjudicating the investigations. Another obstacle to self-sponsorship is the federal government’s policy to limit clearance requests to only those positions for which a validate need exists. Without these 2 obstacles private companies could fill the need to provide the necessary front-end application and payment processing.
Is it time for the federal government to allow people to sponsor themselves for a security clearance, if they are willing to personally pay for it?