Background Investigations

TSA Relaxes Security Requirements Due to Clearance Backlog

Due to backlog in the screening process, the TSA is allowing some personnel to be hired prior to the standard background check and security assessment.

WSB-TV in Atlanta received a copy of an internal memo from airline officials, which outlined the Transportation Security Administration directive to employers and contractors at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

TSA sources told WSB-TV that the backlog was caused by a computer glitch which kept clearance information from being sent to the TSA for processing.

“To allow for a continuity of operations, TSA has provided airports and airlines with interim regulatory relief,” TSA spokesman Jon Allen said in a statement. “At no time was security at risk, and all new employees will still undergo identity verification and be subject to watch list matching.”

Lawmakers are allegedly outraged, with several expressing concern that individuals could be hired and given access to airport facilities without having an appropriate background check.

While almost all TSA positions list security clearance eligibility as a requirement, only supervisors and headquarters managers are processed for higher-level secret security clearances. In 2010, the TSA announced it would be requiring security clearances for all supervisors, increasing the number of cleared TSA personnel from roughly 774 to over 10,000.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    No offense, but I am not a fan of completing the TSA investigations. Most of them are very lengthy interviews and, as a contractor, hard to make decent money on due to the amount of time they take.

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    I agree–I have had only one case that was quick. Funny how they release this story as if this hasn’t been going on for a long time now.

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    This story comes out on the heals of the multiple TSA airport screeners being prosecuted for accepting bribes to allow large amounts of drugs through the airports…good stuff.

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    I’ve got an off-topic question. How does information from a protected/confidential source figure into an adjudicative decision? It would seem to me to violate the privacy act if a clearance is denied/revoke based solely on a confidential source’s testimony (but I could be wrong). Is the idea, then to obtain the info and then try to develop non-protected corroboration or coverage? What if no open sources exist to corroborate what the protected source provided? Got into a discussion about this with a fellow investigator and we’re both wondering the above.


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    I can see why the politicians would have a problem with this. I can’t think of anything else intelligent to say so, that’ll be it for now.

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    Very Special Investigator,

    You hit the nail on the head. It is the investigator’s job to obtain further coverage to support/discredit the testimony of the protected source. As with all source interviews, you should ask the protected source for names/contact information of other knowledgable leads; really press them to get as many as possible (you can never have too many leads in this type of situation) and then track every single one of them down. Make sure that you get multiple leads from each of original leads…and then track all of them down, too. As they say, it all comes out in the wash. By the time you’ve exhausted all possible leads the adjudicator should have enough information to make a reasonable decision.

    In my personal experience, I found far more additional sources who discredited the protected source rather than supported the protected source. When it comes to adjudication I’m told that if you’ve got (for example) 25 favorable testimonies and 1 unfavorable (protected or not) testimoy – and it is clear that all leads have been exhausted – the 1 unfavorable source is not going to be allowed to torpedo the entire investigation. Adjudicators are just as concerned with balance as they are the 13 adjudicative guidelines. Give the adjudicators enough to reasonably work with and you’ve done your job well.

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    The adjudicators can’t use the protected source testimony for adjudicative purposes. I have had former spouses want to be protected sources because if their ex lost their jobs, their alimony or child support would be at risk. I have had neighbors want to be protected because they had to live next to or across from the subject forever and didn’t want to be involved with that person losing or not getting their clearance. I have had to go out to get what I consider to be sanitized sources willing to go on record. It’s especially troublesome when the information cannot be corroborated by other sources, like the neighbors who know the source and their families intimately and the info they know are subject’s family secrets and skeletons. I have always felt that the privacy act should not apply to the sources of investigations- they may be more candid if they weren’t worried about the subject not getting a clearance as a result of their testimony.

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    I wonder just how many people would actualy obtain and maintain their clearances if Sources were as “candid” as they should be…

  9. Avatar

    I feel a great disturbance in the Force. As if millions of ROI’s suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced by new reporting guidelines.

  10. Avatar

    More changes coming? Great.

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    It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. -Charles Darwin

  12. Avatar

    Well spill the beans then oh wise one! 😀

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    All that you know, will come to an end…

    Just kidding.

    There are rumors about, not sure what I can put on the innerwebs. Sorry.

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    There is no such thing as a “Protected Source” as anyone in a previous LE life will tell you.

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    In addition to the huge turnover rate our company just announced we did not win the rebid for a non OPM B.I. contract we have held for the last 10 years.

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    If the rumors are that the ROIs will become shorter I am all for it.

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    has anyone heard who won the non OPM contract.

  18. Avatar

    Yesterday, I saw that USIS was won a multi-year contract worth a total of $800+ million with DHS.

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    I just found out it might be Omniplex. They are calling it their Sherlock contract. I do wonder if the agency holding the contract saw what happened and is still happening to my company and that factored into their decision. I also got the impression from some upper management that they felt we had this contract in the bag so it came as a big shock that we lost it.

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    Shorter ROI’s, are not part of the change, sadly, they will be the opposite and more convoluted.

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    Well that sounds pleasant…

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    Upper management did indeed think that USIS had the OS contract in the bag, based on the attitude of some at town halls and meetings. I can only imagine what they must be thinking now because this came as a shock to everyone.

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    I don’t think it was the company. All contracts seem to be best price now. Other companies can come in lower as everyone has lower overhead than USIS.

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    I hope they are longer. I sent in a request to make the reports longer because 4 hours for one report just doesn’t seem long enough to me.

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    Spill what beans? These inept clowns already know.

  26. Avatar

    BW, I knew it was your fault.

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    All –

    I just heard about the loss of the OS contract, too. Quite the shocker. This will only send more employees running for the hills.

    On another note, with so many federal agencies with black eyes these days, the DEA now has one, too; check out this article:

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    BW –

    Four hours for one report? Underachievement! 😉

  29. Avatar

    Before I left the Contractor Who Shall Not Be Named, they told us at a town hall the the OS was changing the structuring of the contract from cost plus to something else (FFP, maybe?) and that it would definitely be less of a priority for CWSNBB as they would be making less money.

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    Very Special Inv

    That’s Firm Fixed Price, which is no doubt why it changed hands as I said above. I guess folks should just press forward and be glad they have work. I don’t work for USIS, but they are still the big gorilla in the room.

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    Well I have been contacted by Omniplex.

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    Wow, I really thought that a DIFFERENT contractor might win the re-bid, based on some recent staffing changes within the two biggest OPM contractors. I was sort of assuming that the OS contract would follow the staff… I’m a bit surprised if Omni won it.

  33. Avatar

    Just found out the ICE background investigation RFP came out

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    What are y’alls thoughts on Omniplex and the OS contract in general? Is it worth looking into for us small time OPM types? I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think either here or privately if anyone has thoughts.

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    Very Special Investigator

    If you have time, it is worth it. I will be submitting my paperwork to them this weekend. Always good to have a fall back contract. I’ve not heard anything bad about Omni in my 8 years in this line of work.

  36. Avatar

    Could someone clarify something about Omni? I was told by a higher up that Omni hires subcontractors exclusively as opposed to regular full-time employees like the other companies in this line of work. Is there any truth to that? Or, like the other companies, does Omni hire a mix of regular full-timers and subcontractors?

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    I don’t know and have never met any Omni full-timers. I know that, when they bring contractors on, they have them fill out paperwork for all their contracts. And I hear good things about e case assignment computer- you assign youself cases that look good. They aren’t the highest paying out tgere, though.

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    Looks like a full time deal.

  39. Avatar

    Anyone see USIS opened an office in the hometown of keypoint in Loveland CO?

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    We were told it was to better serve our west coast customers and that we would be sharing an office with Kroll since they are under our parent company Altegrity.

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    Kroll is across the street from Keypoint and has been there for years, back when we were Kroll.

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    Granted I do think one of USIS’s main west coast customers was the contract we just lost so I wonder how long we will maintain that office.

  43. Avatar

    Well, I am debating leaving USIS after being offered a job with Omniplex to work this new Sherlock contract. There are lots of differences between employers. Can anyone offer some insight? I have no idea what to do. I’ve been pretty unhappy with USIS lately though…..forced overtime, crappy benefits, etc. Any info would be helpful.
    – Val

  44. Avatar

    Ive been hearing good things about omniplex as compared to USIS and KGS. Any insight into the Sherlock/OS contract? caseloads, acd’s, etc.