Effective May 12, 2016 security clearance background investigations may include the collection and review of publicly available media information in determining eligibility for access to classified information. The long awaited policy release, Security Executive Agent Direction 5, gives the Federal government authority to implement these checks, however, it leaves it up to agency heads to determine whether or not they want to include social media checks in background investigations on their employees.
The FY 2016 1st Quarter report on Insider Threat and Security Clearance Reform generated by ODNI shows that the timelines for several initiatives were not met. The Performance Accountability Council (PAC) is responsible for oversight and implementation of the proposed reforms and is the lead in unifying and standardizing the Federal Government’s efforts. Some of the initiatives currently in progress are: developing insider threat programs; updating continuous evaluation processes; coordination with Federal, State, and Tribal entities in sharing information; quality control and oversight of investigations and adjudications; and improving risk management tools regarding position designation and investigations. Here are some of the areas where ODNI milestones were missed:
In another case involving a former contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Justice announced that former KeyPoint Government Solutions investigator Jason Razo pled guilty in the U.S. District Court in D.C. to making a false statement. This is the latest in a string of convictions involving 21 other background investigators who also falsified Reports of Investigations by ghost-reporting interviews that never occurred. Razzo, in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, agreed to pay the federal government restitution in the amount of $85,779. Sentencing in this case has yet to occur, but if it follows precedent on previous convictions for the same offense, there is a 50-50 chance Razzo will get some jail time. OPM’s Office of the Inspector General investigators and U.S. District Court prosecutors have sought stiff sentencing from the judges in these cases to send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
Flying under the radar because of all of the recent security clearance news, little has been written about the facility security clearance backlog that has impacted companies who need the clearance in order to perform work on classified contracts. A Facility Security Clearance (FCL) is an administrative determination that a facility (company) is eligible to access or store classified information at the same or lower classification category as the clearance being granted.