Security clearance reform comes in focus, and long-term fixes lag

Federal executive branch agencies “have made progress” in reforming their security clearance procedures, but problems remain in bringing the system to a higher standard, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

“Executive branch agencies have made progress reforming the security clearance process, but long-standing key initiatives remain incomplete,” a summary of the GAO report, released March 6, said. “Progress includes the issuance of federal adjudicative guidelines and updated strategic documents to help sustain the reform effort.”

“However, agencies still face challenges in implementing aspects of the 2012 Federal Investigative Standards—criteria for conducting background investigations—and in implementing a continuous evaluation program,” the summary continued. “In addition, while agencies have taken steps to establish government-wide performance measures for the quality of investigations, neither the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) nor the interagency Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC) have set a milestone for completing their establishment.”

In short, the GAO said, intelligence agencies have not put in place a “government-wide plan.” In particular, delays and backlogs continue. The National Background Investigations Bureau says that some 710,000 pending investigations remain as yet incomplete, representing a vast backlog. The NBIB “has not developed a plan to reduce the backlog to a manageable level,” the summary said.

For more, see the GAO summary and report at:

Reader comments

Fri, Mar 9, 2018

Years ago when I had to get a top secret clearance too work with nuclear weapons they spent at least one month digging into my background and they would have found if I was hiding anything so for clearances they need to dig around because that is the easiest way to see what might pop up

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