Security clearance reforms sought

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget are seeking ways to meet Congress' December 2009 deadline for improving the security clearance process.

In a request for information posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site Aug. 14, the Air Force, which is acting as the procurement arm for the group, is asking vendors to submit their strategies for completing 90 percent of security clearance investigations in 40 days and adjudications in 20 days.

The Air Force said the new system should be in place by Dec. 31, 2008.

'The objective of this initiative is to develop a process [that] will deliver high-assurance security clearance determinations in the least time at the lowest reasonable price,' the RFI states.

Agencies process about 1 million background investigations and adjudications for security clearances annually, and although there are standards, processes and tools vary considerably, the RFI states. Those processes, the clearance volume and costs can significantly delay the granting of security clearances, which then affects agencies and contractors, according to the document.

The RFI's goal is to find out whether industry solutions already exist that are scalable, portable and interoperable. The chosen system must work in classified and unclassified environments, and must process and track a variety of investigation types, the RFI states.

System features could include automated collection of application information, the ability to conduct automated record checks and additional investigations as required, use of biometric and digital signature technologies, the ability to perform electronic reporting and analysis of information for adjudications, continuous evaluation of cleared personnel, and work process management.

RFI responses are due Aug. 27.

The security clearance issue has been of major concern for a long time. In a recent report to OMB, the Office of Personnel Management said that in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, it took an average of 101 days to process 80 percent of the 154,716 initial investigations OPM completed. That is down from 347 days in 2005 and 392 days in 2004.

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