Congress continues to debate next steps in the security clearance reform process. A senate hearing this week focused on position sensitivity designations. A new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would streamline the process for determining which positions are deemed ‘sensitive.’ Such a designation applies to positions with a potentially adverse effect on national security but which don’t require a security clearance.

OPM currently offers a position designation tool to help determine which positions are classified as sensitive or requiring a security clearance. Critics argue the tool often goes unused and agencies are not educated on its use.

ODNI and OPM’s proposed rule provides more detail for agencies in making position sensitivity decisions. And while the director of the special security directorate at ODNI said he did not expect the rule to result in an increase or decrease in positions deemed sensitive, he did note that a redesignation of positions to a lower sensitivity level could result.

Those testifying could offer little details on what the implementation plan for the program will be. It’s expected to be finalized by February 2014. Without a clear plan for educating agencies, it seems likely the same confusion concerning position designations will continue.


Also on the topic of security clearance reform – the White House pushed back this week on Senate efforts to reform clearance procedures within DoD as a part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill.

The Obama Administration’s ‘Statement of Administrative Policy’ concerning the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill cautions the Senate against reforms and argues changes should wait until the conclusion of an ongoing 120-day interagency suitability and security processes review, currently being led by the Office of Management and Budget. Section 931 of the Defense Authorization Bill calls for a comparative analysis of security clearance procedures by the Secretary of Defense. The analysis would help the department determine mechanisms for improving the cost transparency of the process, in a time when security clearance contract investigation companies are under investigation, themselves.

The White House claims currently proposed reforms would conflict with the OMB’s role as an executive agent examining the process. It notes that while it supports reform, it requests the Senate wait for the end of the current review.

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