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Back to the Future: Personnel Security Clearance Process Back on GAO “High-Risk List”

February 5, 2018

On January 25, 2018, GAO returned the personnel security clearance process to the “High-Risk List” of federal programs needing substantial attention, citing the delayed and backlogged investigations queue, slow reform of the clearance process, and lack of investigation quality metrics. GAO found that: the backlog had grown to over 700,000 by September 2017; the NBIB has too few investigators to significantly reduce the backlog; and an inter-agency reciprocity policy is not yet completed. From 2005-2011, DoD’s clearance process was on the List due to similar issues. GAO had removed the program because DoD and OPM had taken steps to improve timeliness and develop quality metrics. The program’s return to the List comes just as Congress has transferred responsibility for investigations back from OPM to DoD under the FY 2018 NDAA. Having held numerous security clearance reform and oversight hearings over the past decade, Congress may not react well to this development.

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Stephanie L. Crawford
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Partner – Washington, D.C.
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