While 2020 will be remembered as the year of the coronavirus pandemic, for those in the security field, it should also be remembered as a year that ushered in significant changes and advancements within the beleaguered personnel security program. Numbers released last week show approximately half of all security clearance holders are now enrolled in the Department of Defense’s Continuous Evaluation (CE) program.
What does CE enrollment mean? Many security clearance holders don’t even realize they’re under the continuous vetting program. The issues flagged are the same primary issues that result in security clearance denial or revocation – financial issues, criminal conduct, or drug and alcohol issues. It’s important to remember that just because an issue results in a flag under CE doesn’t mean it automatically results in security clearance denial. Flags are evaluated, and trigger an investigation only when the issue warrants it. Based on the results of an investigation, an applicant may receive a Statement of Reasons to revoke a security clearance, or the issue may be handled administratively.
Self reporting rules still apply even under the government’s CE program. That means if you file for bankruptcy, get divorced, get a DUI, or have another issue related to any of the 13 adjudicative criteria, it’s important to let your security officer know.
Enrollment in CE is not dependent upon security clearance level, for instance. Of those enrolled currently, 69% are Secret clearance holders and 31% are Top Secret or TS/SCI security clearance holders. The split is relatively proportional to the overall number of security clearance holders at each level. Enrollment into CE was a major part of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency’s backlog mitigation measures. By enrolling new individuals into CE, DCSA was able to defer some Periodic Reinvestigations, and invest those hours into addressing the backlog of new cases. That meant for a season (and potentially even today), PR processing times lagged for those who weren’t enrolled into CE.
How Do I Know If I’m Enrolled?
Don’t expect a letter for the government saying ‘Congrats! You’re now enrolled in Continuous Vetting!‘ If you currently have a security clearance or are applying for one, you should assume that between now and the end of 2021, you’ll be enrolled in the program. Your security officer should be able to see if you’re enrolled in CE, but don’t expect them to notify you, either (and they should feel no obligation to do so). Until policy changes, the requirements for security clearance holders and officers are the same. If you have a violation, self report the issue to your security officer. If you’re a security officer, submit a PR at the 6 or 10 year investigation timeline unless you’re notified otherwise. If you work for industry, reach out to your DCSA representatives with any specific questions.