Report: Administration has mixed record on clearances

The Bush administration has improved the efficiency of managing security clearances, but the process remains cumbersome, according to a new report from chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The administration met three requirements, partially met two requirements and failed to meet two requirements outlined under Title III of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, according to the report from Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas).

The report, titled “Security Clearance Reform — Upgrading the Gateway to the National Security Community,” was published on the Web Dec. 1 by the Federation of American Scientists.

One of the legislation’s key recommendations was centralized management for security clearances, but the government has had mixed progress on that front, the report states.

Following the legislation’s passage, the Office of Personnel Management assumed responsibility in 2005 for the majority of the security clearance investigations. In April, the administration announced a change to that structure, designating a collaborative effort consisting of representatives from the Defense Department, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and OPM.

“While both the old and new structures seem to meet the law's requirements, the first structure did not demonstrate concrete results toward several of the [law’s] requirements,” the report states. “While it is too early to evaluate the success of the new structure, it appears that steps have been taken to improve the system.”

The administration has not the law’s standard for an integrated, secure database, Reyes wrote. The databases of OPM and DOD have been linked, but they do not include data about clearances not investigated by OPM, such as from the intelligence communit or Homeland Security and State departments.

Reyes also cited partial progress on the requirement that a single agency be responsible for clearance investigations.

Other findings regarding the progress under the legislation include:

    * The standard for interagency reciprocity has not been met.  

    * The evaluation of available technologies has been conducted.

    * The interim standards for timeliness 2006 were met.

    * Annual reporting requirements were met.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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