January

Annual Report on PSI-I and the NISP—The “Annual Report to Congress on Personnel Security Investigations for Industry and the National Industrial Security Program” provided statistical data for defense contractor security clearance processing during Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. Notably there was a 28% increase in the number of interim security clearances granted by the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO). There was a 9% increase in pending adjudications, a 15% reduction in pending initial investigations, a 41% reduction in pending Top Secret Periodic Reinvestigations, and an 18% reduction in the average end-to-end processing time for the fastest 90% of initial clearances.

DHS Inspector General’s Report—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General’s Office released a report outlined 15 recommendations to improve the department’s implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors (August 2004). HSPD-12 mandated that federal agencies issue secure federal “Personal Identity Verification” cards by October 2008. As of September 2009 only 15,567 of the approximately 250,000 DHS employees and contractors had been issued PIV cards.

February

Security And Suitability Process Reform: Strategic Framework—The Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council submitted its annual report to Congress in compliance with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The report claimed to have met the IRTPA requirement that 90% of all security clearances be completed in an average 60 days. The report laid out 7 strategic goals and 7 process modules to achieve the overall process reform goals, but there was no mention of the previously announced revision to the investigative standards needed to properly use 5 of the process modules.

March

New SF86 Approved by OMB—The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a new version of the Standard Form 86—SF86 (Questionnaire for National Security Positions). The new SF86 contains more branching questions than the previous version. The only available description of the new form is a PDF file, consisting of 453 pages of explanations and screen shots of the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) version. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has not yet posted the new form at their website. The last revision of the SF86 was approved in July 2008. OPM did not post that version of the form on their website until October 2008, and the e-QIP version was not available for use by contractors until January 2009.

Industrial Security Clearance Processing Statistics—A Defense Security Service (DSS) presentation at the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) March meeting included data for 1st quarter FY2010 and January 2010 on defense contractor clearance processing. Average end-to-end processing for all contractor initial security clearances was 99 days (78 days for the fastest 90%) in 1st quarter FY2010. SF86 error rejection rate for the same period was about 11% with small contractor and non-possessing facilities experiencing 29% to 52% rejection rates.

The Security Clearance and Investigation Process—OPM released this presentation, which as the title indicates gives a overview of the security clearance and investigation process. It also includes a chart on case data. During FY2009, OPM had 636,873 initial security clearance investigations, slightly less than the previous year. There was a 7 fold increase in Public Trust investigations in FY2009 as compared to FY2005. The number of basic suitability/credentialing investigations declined significantly from previous years.

April

Case Adjudication Tracking System (CATS)—CATS became fully operational at the Air Force Central Adjudication Facility (CAF). CATS enables Department of Defense (DOD) CAFs to electronically receive completed investigative files from OPM and eAdjudicate selected cases. CATS was previously implemented at the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO), Army, Navy, and Washington Headquarters Services CAFs and cut case transfer time in half. Prior to CATS, investigative files were mailed from OPM to these DOD CAFs.

June

Period Reinvestigations of Contractor Personnel—DSS announced that DISCO will identify and subsequently notify National Industrial Security Program (NISP) cleared contractor facilities of cleared personnel who are due or overdue for a Periodic Reinvestigation (PR). If the contractor facility fails to submit the requested SF86 to DISCO within 60 days, clearance eligibility will be removed and the Facility Security Officer notified. Clearance eligibility will be reinstated upon submission of the required information.

July

Transfer of DOD Personnel Security IT Systems—The Defense Central Index of Investigations (DCII) was transferred from DSS to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). This completed the tranfer of DOD Personnel Security IT Systems from DSS to DMDC. Previously the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), the Secure Web Fingerprint Transmission (SWFT), and the improved Investigative Records Repository (iIRR) were transferred from DSS to DMDC. These systems will eventually be integrated into the Defense Information Systems for Security (DISS) along with the Industrial Security Facility Database (ISFD) and Educational Network Registration and On-Line Learning (ENROL). DISS also provides Automated Records Check (ARC) and eAdjudication functionality and will become the single point of entry for DOD personnel security.

Automated Record Check (ARC)—ARC initial operating capability for selected populations was implemented. ARC utilizes applicant data to collect relevant information available through government and commercial databases and flag issues for investigative purposes. It is one of the seven process modules of the clearance reform effort.

August

New Director of National Intelligence (DNI)—James Clapper was confirmed by the Senate and assumed the position of DNI on August 9. He was previously Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and led the DOD clearance reform effort. Clapper replaced acting Director David C. Gompert who returned to his position as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence. The former DNI, Dennis C. Blair, resigned in May 2010. In addition to his primary duties of advising the President on intelligence matters, heading the 16 member Intelligence Community, and directing the National Intelligence Program, the DNI has policy and oversight authority for all executive branch security clearance processing.

September

Cost of Security/Suitability Investigations—OPM published new prices for their standard investigative products for FY2011. With one exception the prices of the most common investigations increased 3%. The Minimum Background Investigation (MBI), now renamed the Moderate Risk Background Investigation, increased 20% for priority handling and 27% for standard service. OPM discontinued the Limited Background Investigation (LBI), the Public Trust Special Background Investigation (PTSBI) and the Periodic Reinvestigation and Residence Coverage (PRIR), as well as various special upgrades and updates to standard investigations. The new Enhanced Subject Interview (ESI) replaced the Personal Subject Interview (PRSI), a standard component of many investigations.

October

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010—After resolving differences with the Senate version, the House version (HR 2701) of the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) was signed by the President and became Public Law No: 111-259. It establishes the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community and requires detailed annual reporting on security clearances, as well as feasibility studies on reducing the number of investigative and adjudicative agencies. (This is the first IAA to become law since 2004; others either died in Congress or were successfully vetoed.)

November

New Defense Security Service Director—Stanley L. Sims became the Director of the Defense Security Service (DSS). He replaced Acting Director Barry Sterling, who will remain with DSS in his previous capacity as the Chief Financial Officer. The former director, Kathy Watson, retired from government service in October. Mr. Sims previously held a two-year post as Director of Security in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In that capacity, he served as the DOD senior performance goal leader for the personnel security reform effort to support requirements of the IRTPA.

Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Security Clearance Reform—The Director of National Intelligence, the Director of OPM, and representatives from DOD, OMB, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided updated information on security clearance reform at a hearing before a Senate subcommittee.

December

WikiLeaks—Numerous news sources reported that OMB sent a memo to federal agencies forbidding unauthorized federal employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites. Other news stories reported that university students were advised not to viewed classified information at WikiLeaks, because it could result in the denial of a security clearance in the future.

House Subcommittee Hearing on Security Clearance Reform —Testimony was heard from representatives of GAO, OMB, ODNI, DOD, and OPM. GAO’s testimony was presented in the form of a report (GAO-11-232T) entitled: “Personnel Security Clearances: Overall Progress Has Been Made to Reform the Governmentwide Security Clearance Process.” The report covered the 3 major long standing security clearance issues: a single federal database for clearance information, reciprocity, and timeliness.

Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010—Congress passed the 2010 Anti-Border Corruption Act (S. 3243) affecting polygraph examinations and periodic reinvestigations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) law enforcement officers (LEO). It became law on January 4, 2011 and directs the Department of Homeland Security to comply with its own regulation that requires all CBP LEO applicants to receive a polygraph examination and background investigation before hiring and a periodic reinvestigation every 5 years. In 2009 less than 15% of CBP LEO applicants received polygraph exams and as of March 2010 CBP had a backlog of approximately 10,000 periodic reinvestigations.

Rollout of New SF86—OPM announced that in February 2011 they will begin a phased implementation of the e-QIP version of the new SF86. A copy of the new SF86, which was approved in March 2010, has not yet been posted to the OPM forms website, but was to be distributed to other investigations service providers before the end of December. The last version (July 2008) of the SF86 was phased in over a period of about 5 months from September 2008 to January 2009.

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William H. Henderson is a retired federal clearance investigator, President of Federal Clearance Assistance Service (FEDCAS), author of Security Clearance Manual, Issue Mitigation Handbook, and a regular contributor to ClearanceJobsBlog.com and ClearanceJobs.com.