The Atlantic reports (courtesy of Registan blogger Joshua Foust) of a recent job posting for agricultural specialists, security clearance required. It points to the dramatic increase in recent years for the need for individuals in a variety of occupations to hold security clearances – from executive assistants and janitorial crews working in cleared facilities to, in this case, farmers deploying to help native populations in combat zones. As the Atlantic notes there’s good reason for individuals deploying to locations like Iraq and Afghanistan to have clearances – sensitive information is on the line and individuals working alongside deployed troops and in secure facilities will most definitely have unique access.
A story on 10News in San Diego highlighted a 32 year-old man who held a security clearance and was working at a Defense Contractor. He was let go from his job after a random drug test, which was preceded by his disclosure to a co-worker that he had a medical marijuana prescription for his depression.
Under federal law (Section 3002 of 50 U.S.C. 435b) a current user of illegal drugs can not be granted a security clearance. Using illegal drugs a few months prior to submitting a clearance application form can be considered current use.
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A Washington Post article on June 24, 2009 reported the planned establishment of a Department of Defense (DoD) Cyber-Defense Command by October 2009 with full operational capability by October 2010. The Cyber-Defense Command’s mission will be to defend military networks, but will assist federal civilian networks.
But a July 22, 2009 Associated Press article reported that a private study found â€œsevere shortages of computer specialists in the federal government. Of concern is the potential threat to national security from increasing coordinated cyberattacks. In the article Ron Sanders, chief human capital officer for the national intelligence director’s office, acknowledged that the intelligence community has more flexibility and resources to attract computer specialists but said there is still an overall shortfall of U.S. citizens with the needed expertise who can also meet security clearance requirements. DoD claims more than 90,000 cybersecurity workers; other federal agencies are estimated to have a total of 35,000 to 45,000 personnel. The private study, Cyber IN-Security: Strengthening the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce, â€œwhich details serious problems within the professional community charged with protecting the government’s computer networks against attacks, was produced by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton.