The number of Department of Defense security clearances dropped by 20 percent between 2013 and 2016 – a reduction of more than 900,000. But clearance reductions appear to be leveling off, with 100,000 clearance holders losing access to classified information and 100,000 gaining access over the past year, according to the latest Insider Threat and Security Clearance Reform progress update.
The overall reduction is a part of the government’s effort to reduce the vulnerabilities caused when a large number of individuals have access to classified information. Efforts to reduce the size of the cleared workforce were praised by Steven Aftergood with the Federation of American Scientists, who wrote, ‘A reduction in security clearances is a wholesome development, since it lowers costs and permits more focused use of security resources.’
The total DoD population eligible to access classified information currently sits at 3.7 million. The progress report also updates on Continuous Evaluation (CE) efforts. The program has expanded to 225,000 clearance holders, and a public records CE pilot is currently underway at the Department of State.
Reductions in the size of the cleared workforce continue to put pressure on government agencies and defense contractors. In addition to updating on the number of clearance holders the quarterly report also noted the number of overdue periodic reinvestigations doubled between June of 2015 and December of 2015. Processing times for new investigations are also up slightly.