Personnel Security Clearances: Overall Progress Has Been Made to Reform the Governmentwide Security Clearance Process

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses our key findings and recommendations in our report that we are releasing today on some aspects of personnel security clearance reforms. We conducted our review in response to a congressional request. This is the fourth in a series of hearings, in which Congress has asked GAO to testify; and this Subcommittee's continued oversight has helped focus attention on the need for personnel security reform. Personnel security clearances allow government and industry personnel to gain access to classified information that, through unauthorized disclosure, can in some ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. December 1, 2010.

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Description

Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses our key findings and recommendations in our report that we are releasing today on some aspects of personnel security clearance reforms. We conducted our review in response to a congressional request. This is the fourth in a series of hearings, in which Congress has asked GAO to testify; and this Subcommittee's continued oversight has helped focus attention on the need for personnel security reform. Personnel security clearances allow government and industry personnel to gain access to classified information that, through unauthorized disclosure, can in some cases cause exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security. The July 2010 and subsequent October 2010 recent unauthorized leak of almost 500,000 classified documents posted to the Internet related to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq provides a cogent example of the inherent risks involved when granting an individual a security clearance. To ameliorate these risks, government agencies rely on a multiphased personnel security clearance process. However, with the increase in demand over the past decade for personnel with security clearances, we and others have identified problems with the security clearance process with respect to delays and incomplete documentation. As a result, we have designated the Department of Defense's (DOD) clearance program--which represents a vast majority of the initial security clearances adjudicated by the federal government--as a high-risk area since 2005. In light of longstanding concerns regarding delays in processing clearances and other issues, Congress set objectives and established requirements for improving the clearance process in section 3001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). IRTPA established objectives for timeliness, requirements for reciprocity--an agency's acceptance of a background investigation or clearance determination completed by any authorized investigative or adjudicative agency--and an integrated, secure database to house clearance information. In 2007, DOD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) formed the Joint Security Clearance Process Reform Team, known as the Joint Reform Team, to transform the security clearance process governmentwide. In the following year, Executive Order 13467 was issued, establishing a Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council (Performance Accountability Council) that is responsible for driving the implementation of reform and is accountable to the President for achieving the reform effort's goals. This governance structure was put in place, in part, to sustain the momentum of clearance reforms. We have previously noted that top leadership must be committed to organizational transformation. To this end, committed executive leadership has worked to reform the personnel security clearance process by improving timeliness and developing quality measures. Congressional oversight through hearings held by this subcommittee in February, July and September 2008, and in October 2009 has helped focus attention on the need for security clearance reform. In addition, the recently passed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 requires reports by the President on the security clearance process, including information on timeliness and quality. This statement highlights the key findings and recommendations from the report we are issuing today. Specifically, it will focus on the extent to which select executive branch agencies (1) investigate and adjudicate initial personnel security clearance applications for civilian, military, and industry personnel in a timely manner; (2) honor previously granted personnel security clearances and the challenges, if any, that exist related to reciprocity; and (3) share personnel clearance information in a single, integrated database."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • December 1, 2010

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Personnel Security Clearances: Overall Progress Has Been Made to Reform the Governmentwide Security Clearance Process, text, December 1, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293477/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.