Security: Clearance and Cyber

In the world of security clearances, the Senate reintroduced a bill last week to decrease the 570,000 pending security clearance investigations backlog. With this legislation, the National Background Investigations Bureau, which conducts most government security checks, will merge into the Pentagon, which may (or may not(!)) help get the backlog under control. Language within the bill charges the Director of National Intelligence with streamlining the time-intensive, paper-heavy security clearance process. It can take over a year to get a clearance, and that’s once you are in the queue. There is also the Catch 22 of not obtaining a contractor job without a clearance and not getting a clearance without already having the job. (Nextgov, February 2019) Of course, the backlog wasn’t helped by the shutdown.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has security on the table. Need to keep your non-US citizen tech guru on staff? DHS is with you. They hope to keep tech specialists from outside the country here, and support the Startup Act. The Startup Act would keep foreign-born entrepreneurs and STEM experts in the country to ultimately promote innovation. Seems counter to the current Administration’s stated goals, but kudos to Congress for trying. (ibid)

Meanwhile, Congress is trying to get a grip on how the recent government shutdown affected security, specifically cyber security. Here is a breakdown of the tech and cybersecurity hearings that took place last week:

  • 2.6.19 the Senate Appropriations Services Committee briefed by intelligence leaders on worldwide threats.
  • 2.6.19 the House Armed Services Committee evaluated the Defense Departments counterterrorism efforts.
  • 2.6.19 the House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee explored ways to preserve the open internet for small business and consumers. (Nextgov, February 2019)

Do you have security clearance questions? Wondering how the open internet will affect your small business and its ability to do business with the government? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 and we will try to provide you with answers.

Clearance! Get Your Clearance Here!

An Executive Order (EO) proposed in June will transfer the governmentwide security clearance program from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to the Pentagon.

DoD is preparing to restructure and reorganize personnel and resources to take over the security clearance program. Their effort has been ongoing since Congress authorized the department to take responsibility for defense-only background investigations in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

DoD plans to merge the NBIB workforce with the Defense Security Service, along with several defense entities, to form a new security clearance organization. Although only Congress can create a new agency, DoD has the latitude to restructure existing functions.

The new agency, likely to be called the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) will have upwards of 10,000 employees. The employees will include both federal and contracted investigators. Employees will come from NBIB and the Defense Security Service’s current workforce of approximately 900 employees. DCSA will have two additional “clearing arms”: a Critical Technology Protection Center and a Counterintelligence and Analysis Center. Ultimately DCSA will serve as the governmentwide security clearance provider.

The goal is to decrease waits for clearances, which is currently absurdly long. People graduating from college and offered a government job, pending a clearance, often are lost to other companies due to long waits for their clearances. The government wants a less expensive workforce and newer technologies,  but cannot get it until they have the cleared personnel.

If you have clearance questions, give us a call at 301-913-5000.