The security clearance process has come a long way, even though it remains on the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List. A recent report, Personnel Vetting: Actions Needed to Implement Reforms, Address Challenges, and Improve Planning, highlights advancements made through the Trusted Workforce program, including the elimination of the backlog of pending investigations and the implementation of the Continuous Evaluation program.

Reporting is the focus of much of the recommendations, with the GAO suggesting steps the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) can take to quantify or verify current reform progress.

Technology was a key component, with the National Background Investigation System (NBIS) making up a key chunk of recommendations. With CE implementation nearly complete (the report noted that three quarters of the eligible security clearance population of 4.1 million security clearance holders was enrolled), GAO also makes recommendations for implementing performance milestones to validate the success of CE.

GAO Security Clearance Accountability Recommendations

The GAO’s recommendations included:

  • CE Performance Metrics
  • Performance Measures for Personnel Security
  • A Reliable Schedule for NBIS Completion
  • Creating Milestones for DCSA Workforce Planning

The GAO report suggests congress should consider requiring ODNI to develop performance metrics for its CE program.  The report also made three executive branch suggestions, including developing performance measures for personnel security, creating a reliable schedule for the development of NBIS, and creating milestones for DCSA workforce planning.

Continuous Evaluation by the Numbers

The GAO report provided some updates on current CE enrollment figures across the government, noting that approximately three quarters of the total eligible population of 4.1 million federal employees, military personnel, and contractor personnel are enrolled in a CE system as of March 2021. That means approximately 3.3 million individuals across 33 agencies are enrolled in systems that meet Trusted Workforce 1.25 requirements. Five agencies met Trusted Workforce 1.5 requirements.

The Department of Defense currently has full enrollment into its Continuous Vetting program, 75% of State Department national security employees are enrolled, and approximately 50% of CIA employees are enrolled into a CE program.

Trusted Workforce 2.0 Shows Positive Progress

Initiatives that are a part of the government’s Trusted Workforce 2.0 security clearance reform effort were largely acknowledged by the GAO report. The key criticism the GAO had for Trusted Workforce 2.0 was the lack of a process to evaluate continuous vetting. The reported noted that ODNI had considered some reportable metrics around the CE program, but elected not to implement them.

The report specifically recommends establishing a targeted timeframe for identifying and resolving CE alerts.


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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.