The Defense Security Service (DSS) and National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) continue to “radically alter the way they do business in the vetting risk operations process.” This was the encouragement from Gus Greene, Director for Industrial Security Field Operations at DSS. Green spoke to a crowd of security professionals on Monday morning at the National Security Institute’s 2019 Impact seminar.

Speaking on behalf of Daniel Payne, Director of DSS, Greene emphasized how much has changed since Dir. Payne came onboard in 2016. Under Payne’s leadership, the organization has shifted from a “compliance-based approach” to the security clearance process, to the current “risk-based” approach. Greene quoted Dir. Payne when he said that, “We are under threat that is unprecedented in Dir. Payne’s entire career.”

Heather Green, Director of DSS’s Vetting Risk Operations Center (VROC), echoed this changing mentality.

“We are tailoring the level of vetting to the level of risk in person and position – looking at risk from a holistic perspective,” said Ms. Green.

Security Officers Should Feel the Heat from the Adversary

Greene was particularly quick to point out the role of Facility Security Officers (FSOs) in this change to the clearance process.

“There is no enterprise more important to national security than this enterprise,” said Greene, addressing the crowd.

FSOs are on the front lines against their adversaries – and he urged them to make sure they felt that way.

“Every day you are facing the threat, and frankly you ought to feel like you’re in a fight. It’s not static, it’s not a one and done effort. It requires us to continually report and update on the process.

He said FSOs and security professionals should ask themselves these questions:

  • Do you feel like you’re in a fight with our adversaries?
  • Do you know specifically what you’re trying to protect?
  • Do you know what the threat is and how they are attacking you?

“Security is an operation – it requires us to be constantly aware and up to date on the threat environment. You have to know it and understand it and maintain awareness of how that threat is coming after you,” reassured Greene.

OPM and DoD Continue to Work Together to Transfer the Security Clearance Mission

This shifting perspective is just one high-level change underway to the security clearance process. Perhaps the most obvious change, however, is the shift of the security clearance process from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to DoD.

This change was announced last year, however, the executive order transferring the security clearance mission from OPM to DoD is still forthcoming – despite promises for months that it’s on its way.

But this delay in the executive order is not stopping the NBIB and DSS from pushing forward with merging the two organizations and their capabilities. Like officials of both organizations have said before, this transfer is being used to reform the organizations and the whole security clearance apparatus.

The new organization will cover all aspects of the clearance process from start to finish, including: Personnel Vetting, Enterprise Management, Counterintelligence Analysis, and Critical Technology Protection.

“We’re tearing down both [DSS and NBIB] to form this composite organization…The strategy is to implement this transition in a phased approach,” explained Greene. “Bringing all of this together under one agency enables things that would have been impossible otherwise.”

The new hybrid organization’s proposed title is the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), but the name is still under review and not yet official.

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Caroline D'Agati is an Editor for ClearanceJobs based in Washington, D.C. Her background is in public policy, non-profit fundraising, and - oddly enough - park rangering. Though she once dreamed of serving America secretly in the CIA, she's grateful she's gotten to serve America publicly - both through the National Park Service and right here at ClearanceJobs. If you have tips or are interested in contributing to our site, you can email her at caroline.d'agati@clearancejobs.com