Will New OPM Oversight Help the Clearance Process?
In the wake of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, Congress is in a push to reform the security clearance process. Where congressional testimony in years past focused on the need to speed up the clearance process and make it easier for cleared personnel to get to work on classified projects, today’s push centers around increased scrutiny and more oversight.
This week the House approved the OPM-IG Act, which allows the Inspector General to access funds to conduct oversight activities. The Senate had already taken a stab at security clearance reform, with the Security Clearance Reform and Oversight Enhancement Act approved in October.
While Congress pushes for reform, the security clearance backlog caused by sequestration continues. In January DSS posted an update to its site noting that 6,000 eQIPs were in the queue for submission – down from a high of over 13,000.
As efforts for security clearance reform continue, a variety of options remain on the table, from continuous monitoring (wait – wasn’t PRISM already doing that?) to shorter periods between reinvestigations (my guess is that won’t help with the backlog). One issue each of these initiatives fails to take into consideration is the impact on the current security clearance investigation and adjudication process and workforce. In a sequestration budget environment, dollars may be shifted but it’s unlikely that an influx of funds will beef up the number of personnel dedicated to the task. New IT advancements, while necessary, also won’t fully solve the problem of ensuring more complete investigations.
Insourcing remains on the table, and many security clearance investigators are left asking if their jobs will remain as-is, or will soon be shifted into the public sector.