A year after the Washington Navy Yard shootings security clearance process reform is moving forward, albeit slowly and methodically. A recent Washington Post article highlighted the progress already made in certain areas, but also came to the conclusion that there is still quite a bit of work to be done before any meaningful changes are effected. Among the changes underway are reducing the number of clearance holders to those that actually need them, decreasing the intervals in between reinvestigations, and updating the continuous evaluation process to make it more robust and effective.
Can individuals access classified national security information without having undergone the background investigation process and been granted a security clearance? Normally the answer is no, but there are certain instances where the requirement is waived. Here are some of the exceptions:
The President and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives do not undergo the normal background investigation process and are not granted security clearances. They may be granted access to classified information relating to matters under the jurisdiction of the respective committees to which they are assigned and if access is needed to perform their duties in connection with such assignments. This does not apply to their staff members, who are required to undergo the investigation and clearance process just like everyone else.
As a security professional I do a lot of reading and research to keep up with the constant changes in my chosen career field. During the course of my reading I have come to the conclusion that many people who apply for federal contractor or civil servant positions seem confused as to what types of positions there are and what investigative requirements are needed for each. In addition to understanding your position designation it is important to be aware of the type of investigation required based upon that determination. This confusion has been promulgated by inaccurate information in numerous security clearance articles written by those who never really worked in the personnel security field, but are now “subject matter experts.”
Despite the fact that in today’s high tech society nearly everyone has instant access to a sea of information via the internet, an important requirement for males living in the U.S. is quite often overlooked or discounted. The Selective Training and Service Act instituted in 1940, temporarily suspended in 1975, and then reenacted again by President Carter in 1980, and known today as the Military Selective Service Act requires all U.S. males and legal immigrants born January 1, 1960 who are between the ages of 18-26 to register. According to the Selective Service System, a 2013 survey revealed that 93% of the male population required to register have done so. That leaves 7% who have not.