Senators Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) added provisions with the intent to further build on their initial legislation with the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. The updates to the bill focus on upholding the integrity of the security clearance process, preventing politically-motivated abuse, and enhancing contractor insider threat programs. Funding is authorized yearly by Congress through the IAA with goals, such as countering terrorist threats, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enhancing counterintelligence, conducting covert actions and collecting/analyzing information from global intelligence sources.
Acting Chairman Mark Rubio states, “The IAA for Fiscal Year 2021 represents the Senate Intelligence Committee’s strong, bipartisan effort to give our Intelligence Community the resources, authorities, and personnel to protect America’s national security while increasing government efficiency. As a nation, we face ever-expanding threats from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Our legislation is vital to the Intelligence Community, and it provides the men and women who serve our nation the tools they need to keep our country safe. At the same time, our bill represents comprehensive Congressional oversight, ensuring that these tools are executed responsibly and cost-effectively.”
The update focuses on clarifying adjudicative guidelines with published criteria for granting, denying, and revoking clearances, increasing transparency and ensuring the rights are the same for both federal contractors and federal employees. The provision also puts a government-wide appeals process in place so that individual can seek to have decisions overturned a the agency level.
Senator Warner explains, “This bill takes key steps to improve our national security, including investments in 5G technology, reforms to our security clearance process, and important protections for whistleblowers to report wrongdoing within the IC.”
The IAA seeks to balance the critical work of the intelligence community with congressional oversight, specifically in the following areas:
- Protection against foreign influence threats, specifically on social media sites
- Detection of Chinese, Russian, and Eastern European information threats
- Achievement of secure 5G networks
- Protection of telecommunications and cybersecurity technology
- Creation of policies that increase fight against insider threats
- Publication of guidelines for the granting, denying, or revoking a security clearance
- Prevention of clearance revocation for reasons of discrimination, political beliefs or retaliation
- Advancement of Intelligence Community hiring flexibilities, student loan repayment programs and childcare options