Continuous Vetting (CV) is the future of the security clearance program, as more and more applicants and clearance holders are enrolled into the Department of Defense’s Continuous Evaluation (CE) program. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference, in both execution and policy.
Continuous Evaluation (CE): Defined in Executive Order 13467 (2008): “Continuous evaluation” means reviewing the background of an individual who has been determined to be eligible for access to classified information (including additional or new checks of commercial databases, Government databases, and other information lawfully available to security officials) at any time during the period of eligibility to determine whether that individual continues to meet the requirements for eligibility for access to classified information.
Continuous Vetting (CV): Defined in Executive Order 13764 (2017): ‘Continuous vetting’ means reviewing the background of a covered individual at any time to determine whether that individual continues to meet applicable requirements.
Vetting is a term that makes numerous appearances in EO 13764, symbolizing the government’s shift from a periodic reinvestigation model, to a continuous vetting model. The differences between CE and CV, while clear in policy and execution, are minor compared to the significant shift both terms imply to the security clearance process. Rather than a periodic review, security clearance holders are continuously vetted using continuous evaluation. The CV program puts renewed emphasis on not just the automated checks of CE, but the importance of self-reporting any issues. CV ensures self reporting isn’t the only way the government finds out adverse information, but it doesn’t eliminate the personal responsibility of the individual security clearance holder.
You’ll still likely hear the terms CE and CV used interchangeably. But keep in mind that CV covers more than just automated records checks. Both programs are also continually evolving as the government improves and rolls out its IT systems that monitor candidates, and puts in place new systems, including the Defense Information System for Security – the JPAS replacement that rolls out more fully this fall.