Navy Yard answers remain elusive after shutdown

Washington Navy Yard

Those hoping to get answers soon about the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shooting will have to wait a bit longer.

A report on the Capitol Police's response to the shooting was due Oct. 21, but the 16-day government shutdown hampered the investigation, which was conducted by a fact review team convened in the days after the shooting. It is not clear when the report will be released.

A Senate hearing to look into the security-clearance process was also postponed, while a Defense Department probe continues.

Top officials from the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and DOD were slated to testify Oct. 1 at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on security clearances and background checks. The hearing has yet to be rescheduled.

At DOD, the investigation has continued into the security-clearance processes that allowed Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis access to the military facilities. That aspect of the search for answers, at least, remained on track despite the government shutdown.

"As I understand it, all work related to the [Navy Yard] investigation was categorized as an exempted activity and therefore was not affected by the shutdown," a DOD spokeswoman said.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers also pressed forward with security-clearance reform measures that many are demanding in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting and the leaks of classified information by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

On Oct. 10, the Senate passed a measure that would authorize OPM to spend money on an investigation of the background-check process, which is a critical part of issuing a security clearance. The green light to use already appropriated funds for the investigation was originally part of a broader measure by Montana Democrat Jon Tester designed to increase oversight of the process and hold government employees and contractors more accountable for falsifying background investigations.

"The recent cases of Edward Snowden and the tragic events that transpired at the Navy Yard underscore the importance of improving oversight of the security clearance process," Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), one of the bill's co-sponsors, said in a statement. "Senate passage of the bill is a step in the right direction toward fixing the faults in our system, and I urge swift passage in the House of Representatives."

The House could vote on a companion measure this month.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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