The Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), in reaction to the several recent incidents on military facilities that involved clearance holders, conducted a review of the current security clearance processes within the Defense Intelligence Community to determine if misconduct was being reported to adjudication facilities, what was done with that information, if anything, and how effective were information sharing processes and accessibility of personnel security information.  The OIG collected and analyzed data from four agencies: Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Agency, National Security Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The findings were released on April 14, 2014 in a report entitled “An Assessment of Contractor Personnel Security Clearance Processes in the Four Defense Intelligence Agencies”.

The report found deficiencies in five main areas:

–          lack of an effective personnel security policy

–          lack of effective or updated record keeping

–          tendency towards avoidance regarding personnel involved in misconduct

–          lack of personnel security information sharing

–          lack of connectivity between investigative data repositories (Defense Central Index of Investigations (DCII) and the Joint Personnel Adjudicative System (JPAS)

The OIG recommendations, in light of the above findings, included strengthening security policy and processes, improving the process of reporting investigations of misconduct, and better maintenance of personnel security databases and software.  Reactions to these recommendations by the four agencies were mixed and some resistance, especially by the NRO, still showed a reluctance to make changes that would improve information reporting and sharing processes.

Interestingly enough, this review was a follow-up to a previous report released by the OIG in September 2012 titled “The Four Intelligence Agencies Have Had No Effective Procedures for Suspensions and Debarments.”  In that report the findings showed that in cases involving misconduct where it was assumed the individual’s clearance would be suspended and/or revoked, it was not.  Additionally, in cases were individuals lost their clearance based on misconduct, they were not debarred form working on unclassified government contracts.

Despite all of the calls for improvements in the security clearance and continuing evaluation processes, continued reluctance by Defense Intelligence Agencies to share or report potentially derogatory information is still an Achilles heel to adjudicators who are trying to piece together a complete picture of an individual’s history.  This same problem could be said for all of the other federal agencies that adjudicate for and issue national security clearances, as I have personally experienced the frustration in being unable to obtain adverse information on someone because the agency doesn’t want to release it to a non-DoD or IC agency.  Security clearance reform is difficult, but changes are needed before improvements in the process can be made.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.