Accession Number:



DOD Personnel Clearances: Some Progress Has Been Made but Hurdles Remain to Overcome the Challenges that Led to GAO's High-Risk Designation

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Testimony]

Corporate Author:

United States Government Accountability Office

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Threats to national securitysuch as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and high-profile espionage casesunderscore the need for timely, high-quality determinations of who is eligible for a personnel security clearance which allows an individual to access classified information. The Department of Defense DOD needs an effective and efficient clearance program because it is responsible for about 2 million active clearances and provides clearances to more than 20 other executive agencies as well as the legislative branch. Despite these imperatives, DOD has for more than a decade experienced delays in completing hundreds of thousands of clearance requests and impediments to accurately estimating and eliminating its clearance backlog. In January 2005, GAO designated DODs personnel security clearance program as a high-risk area. In February 2005, DOD transferred its personnel security investigative functions and about 1,800 positions to the Office of Personnel Management OPM, after 2 years of negotiation between the agencies. This testimony provides an update on the challenges that led to GAOs high-risk designation. It identifies both the positive steps that have been taken to address previously identified challenges and some of the remaining hurdles. GAO will continue to monitor this area.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]