The follow-up to last month’s heated congressional inquiry of the clearance process didn’t take long, with security clearance reform legislation introduced this week. The Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act was introduced this week. It requires the government to update its policies and increase the transparency of the clearance process. It also strengthens the government’s authority to terminate employees and contractors involved in falsifying background investigations
The bill increases oversight of the Office of Personnel Management’s revolving fund, which pays for security clearance investigations. At testimony last month Sen. Claire McCaskill was outraged that the $1 billion account had never been audited. SCORE updates United States Code to require budgets to include an estimation of reasonable costs from the Inspector General.
The bill also paves the way for increased desk audits and scrutiny over which positions truly require and employee to have access to classified information. Within 180 days of the enactment of SCORE, the Director of National Intelligence is required to issue guidance as to whether or not a position requires a security clearance, as well as establishing procedures for periodic review.
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The bill is a bipartisan effort from the leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
“Recent events force us to take a close look at what the federal government is doing in the name of national security and how well we are protecting classified information,” said Sen. John Tester, who heads the Subcommittee on Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce. “This bill gives investigators the tools they need to hold folks accountable and protect our national security.”
While not a direct push for the insourcing of investigative work, the Act does shine a spotlight on the companies conducting background investigations. Changes to OPM’s revolving fund include allowing the IG to use money for audits, investigations and oversight.
“Private contractors are doing a huge bulk of these background checks, and it’s nothing short of a national security threat if they’re not conducting those checks with the care and attention needed. …These new safeguards can bolster accountability, and go a long way to restore Americans’ trust in this area of our national security.”