What is the state of the personnel security process and Trusted Workforce 2.0 today? Last week the Performance Accountability Council released its Trusted Workforce 2.0 implementation strategy. The guidance will give a framework for rolling out Trusted Workforce 2.0 reforms across the federal government.

ClearanceJobs recently sat down with Charlie Sowell, CEO of SE&M Solutions and no stranger to personnel security and security clearance topics. Sowell discussed the state of personnel security today, the National Background Investigation Services, the differences between suitability and security clearances, and more.

  • 2:00 – The State of Personnel Security today.
  • 3:35 – Status of Trusted Workforce 2.0.
  • 5:40 – The National Background Investigations System (NBIS)
  • 7:35 – Marijuana use in the clearance process
  • 9:30 – The difference between suitability and a security clearance
  • 16:30 – Moving national security careers outside of the Beltway.

The Status of Trusted Workforce 2.0 and Clearance Reform

“In terms of the current state, I think we’re in evolution versus revolution,” said Sowell. “At the end of the day we’re still evaluating trustworthiness of people to hold a clearance and access classified information. How we do it seems to be much improved, but the end game is the same.”

With the groundwork in place, it’s now up to agencies to pick up the ball and move forward with the Trusted Workforce 2.0 implementation plan established by the federal government. Federal agencies will also need to come alongside the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) as it rolls out NBIS and gets the technology piece of Trusted Workforce 2.0 in motion.

“The National Background Investigations Services (NBIS) is clearly the lynch pin,” said Sowell. With Continuous Vetting critical to improving the investigations process, having a robust technology platform that can communicate across government will help make the one clearance concept a reality.

Drug Use and Other Clearance Hot Topics

Drug policies can be frustrating for clearance applicants and federal agencies alike. “Federal agencies issuing security clearances have to follow federal law,” said Sowell. ODNI issued clarifying guidance about drug use for clearance applicants, but changes to policies will continue to move slowly until there are also changes to federal laws. The other aspect of the process that can cause confusion is suitability versus a security clearance. Just because ODNI is emphasizing past drug use as not determinative in the clearance process doesn’t mean agencies won’t have their own suitability requirements.

“Agencies are still going to make different suitability and security clearance determinations,” said Sowell. “It’s hard to make one rule that goes across the whole of government.”

Whether it’s policy or process, reform or status quo, the evolution of security and vetting continues to move forward.



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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer