Breaking with tradition, the Government Accountability Office added the governmentwide security clearance program to the High-Risk List, one year ahead of the scheduled release of its biennial assessment and status report of federal initiatives.
In a special report, “Is splitting the security clearance process destined for failure?” Federal News Radio explores how a small provision in the 2018 defense authorization bill could have major repercussions on the background investigations backlog and could put the future of the National Background Investigations Bureau in question.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Jan. 17, which sets the governance process and suitability standards for agencies and the population of federal employees and contractors. It clarifies the work that the Office of Personnel Management and National Background Investigation Bureau has already started to develop a more modern vetting system.
The defense industry has gotten off to a good start implementing initial capabilities for insider threat programs, the Defense Security Service said. Cleared contractors had until Nov. 30 to develop and submit their plans for an insider threat program and appoint a senior official to lead and oversee it.
President-elect Donald Trump’s suggested hiring freeze on the federal workforce could have major implications for federal contractors. With possible plans to cut the size of the federal workforce through attrition and retirements, some contractors say industry may have to shoulder more of the workload, since the capability requirements won’t change even as government shrinks.
A successful transition to the administration’s new federal security clearance program will take the right technology, timing and leadership, former federal intelligence community experts said.
Departments will soon begin to randomly investigate security clearance holders twice every five years.
From Google searches to LinkedIn connections, a wealth of publicly available online information can reveal a person’s mindset, and possibly tip off the government to the next Edward Snowden or Aaron Alexis. The intelligence community has done some testing, but a final policy remains elusive. Contractors are hesitant.
It’s become routine in criminal cases for law enforcement to search for suspects’ motives by looking at their social media accounts after the crime. But the government has been slow to search social media proactively in other ways. For instance, like evaluating someone for a security clearance. At a recent event hosted by the Professional Services Council, one federal official said the intelligence community had developed a policy to incorporate social media into background investigations. But it’s been held up for a year and a half by senior leaders. Charlie Sowell is a former intelligence official, now with Salient Federal Solutions. He tells Emily Kopp that few contractors are using social media to vet their employees too, but that’s changing.