The Insider

Sen. Warner urges White House to prioritize security clearance reform

March 14, 2018 |
Justin Doubleday
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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the White House today urging officials there to make security clearance reform one of their top priorities.

"We write to request that you personally apply the utmost priority to personnel security clearance reform to ensure we can recruit and retain a trusted workforce for our nation’s national security and public safety missions," Warner wrote in a letter on behalf of the Intelligence Committee to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Warner highlighted how the Government Accountability Office earlier this year added the personnel security clearance process to its "high-risk" list, while Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently stated the process is "broken."

Warner noted the background investigations backlog for people seeking security clearances is more than 700,000, while the costs to conduct investigations has doubled in the last three years and wait times to receive a clearance far exceed federal standards.

"We need a 'whole-of-government' approach to tackling this challenge -- by harnessing the power of modern technology, instituting processes like 'continuous evaluation,' ensuring adequate funding, and ensuring uniform standards," Warner wrote. "These things require the administration’s top officials to treat security clearance as an urgent priority."

Last week, government officials and industry representatives testified in front of the intelligence committee on the effects of the background investigations backlog and efforts to reform security clearances.

The office of the director of national intelligence, in concert with other government agencies, is embarking on an initiative to reform and modernize the clearance process called "Trusted Workforce 2.0," according to Brian Dunbar, the assistant director of the special security directorate within the national counterintelligence and security center.

"We look forward to conceptualizing, implementing and ultimately accomplishing the revolutionary change required across the clearance enterprise," Dunbar said during the March 7 hearing. He said the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative would kick off this week at the Intelligence Community Campus in Bethesda, MD.

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