Last week’s Senate hearing on security clearance reform focused on defense contractors and necessary reforms to prevent another Aaron Alexis from falling through the cracks. Several issues are of specific interest to the background investigator community, including proposals to shorten the length of time between periodic reinvestigations; improving technology and increasing the automation involved in the background investigation process; and creating uniform standards of training for background investigators.
An 0p-ed in the Washington Post by former deputy secretary of defense and chairman of the Defense Policy Board John Hamre calls the current security clearance process pathetic.
Hamre relayed the process he had to go through for his recent top secret security clearance renewal. For unclear reasons he had to re-submit his electronic SF-86. While this itself was an annoyance, it seemed to be the security clearance interview that sent Hamre over the edge in his frustration with the process.
It’s a frequent problem particularly in the government-driven Washington, D.C. area – highly skilled cleared personnel left sitting on their hands for months at a time while awaiting security clearance reciprocity or transfer between agencies. In some cases the individuals are able to await work in a government office, although with limited access to networks, systems or other tools of the job. In other cases, they’re sitting at home, literally doing nothing except perhaps administrative duties while awaiting clearance transfer and subsequent placement.
ClearanceJobs founder and managing director Evan Lesser was recently interviewed by Federal Times about security clearance processing and progress. While dramatic improvements in processing times have been made in recent years and the security clearance program has been taken off the Government Accountability Office hot seat, there’s still a lot to be done.