01.22.20

Senate Intel Committee Statement on Status of Security Clearance Reform

WASHINGTON – Today, following a closed-door hearing held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the federal government’s security clearance reform efforts, Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following statements:

Statement from Chairman Burr:

“I am pleased to say that we are seeing significant improvements in the security clearance process. The investigation backlog has come down from 725,000 cases in early 2018 to a steady-state level of just over 200,000 today. With the backlog under better control, the next phase of Trusted Workforce 2.0 is about to begin. The proposed reforms would aim to revamp the security clearance process and ensure our nation’s secrets are protected.

“These reforms cannot come a moment too soon. Our Intelligence Community is only as good as its people, but too often our most promising recruits get stuck in a discouraging, years-long clearance process before they can begin work. The delays disproportionately affect first or second generation Americans – folks who possess deep cultural understanding and diverse perspectives that are invaluable in the IC. Our system should be equipped to welcome a patriotic, first-generation Chinese-American who has spoken Mandarin since she was a child, while at the same time excluding the Edward Snowdens of the world who would put our nation’s safety at risk.”

Statement from Vice Chairman Warner:

“We need a revolution in how the executive branch thinks about security clearance reform and personnel vetting for those charged with safeguarding our nation’s most sensitive secrets.  The Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, as the government’s Security Executive Agent and the Suitability/Fitness and Credentialing Executive Agent, respectively, should implement Trusted Workforce 2.0 without delay.  For this effort to be effective, the executive branch must provide a specific plan of action that demonstrates the new system will be more effective and efficient than the old one; identify obstacles and mitigation strategies; and service all stakeholders equitably. I look forward to continued partnership with the executive branch to affect the transformation required in the personnel vetting model to meet today’s threat environment, capitalize on modern technologies, and reflect the mobility of today’s workforce.”

Background:

The current security clearance personnel vetting model has remained largely unchanged for more than 70 years.  Over the last three years, with significant, bipartisan, pressure from the Committee – including a March 2018 open hearing – there has been substantial progress in reforming this antiquated model.

In December 2019, the President signed into law the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2018, 2019, and 2020, which contained an entire title on clearance reform included by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Its provisions will modernize, simplify, and make more transparent the security clearance process; further reduce backlogs; improve information sharing with industry; and reflect the demands of today’s mobile workforce. The legislation affirms and accelerates many aspects of Trusted Workforce 2.0, the interagency initiative to transform the national security workforce.