Personnel Security Clearances: Actions Needed to Ensure Quality of Background Investigations and Resulting Decisions
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC United States
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Recently the DNI reported that more than 5.1 million federal government and contractor employees held or were eligible to hold a security clearance. GAO has reported that the federal government spent over 1 billion to conduct background investigations in support of security clearances and suitability determinations for federal employment in fiscal year 2011. A high quality process is essential to minimize the risks of unauthorized disclosures of classified information and to help ensure that information about individuals with criminal activity or other questionable behavior is identified and assessed as part of the process for granting or retaining clearances. This statement addresses 1 a general overview of the security clearance process 2 what is known about the quality of investigations and adjudications, which are the determinations made by executive branch agency officials to grant or reject clearance requests based on investigations and 3 the extent of reciprocity, which is the decision of agencies to honor clearances previously granted by other agencies. This statement is based on GAO work issued from 2008 to 2013 on DODs personnel security clearance program and government-wide suitability and security clearance reform efforts. As part of that work, GAO 1 reviewed relevant statutes, federal guidance, and processes, 2 examined agency data on the timeliness and quality of investigations and adjudications, 3 assessed reform efforts, and 4 reviewed a sample of case files for DOD personnel.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Forces and Organizations