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Addressing the National Security Clearance Backlog
West Virginia's cyber industry experts reveal the number one barrier to increasing cyber and intel jobs is the national backlog of security clearances. As federal agencies launch new efforts to streamline protocols, WV Forward and the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation are partnering with government, industry, business and education leaders to provide substantive, actionable recommendations that address underlying issues that impede granting qualified individuals security clearances. By building these strategic collaborations and staying engaged with federal officials as they put together a 2019 progress report, West Virginia can help yield the best results to improve the security clearance process.
Reducing the Backlog
After a Summer 2018 shift in responsibility from the Office of Personnel Management to the Defense Security Service, the backlog was reduced by 9% from 725,000 in June 2018 to 657,000 in September 2018.
What industry can do
- Form DD 254 - Re-negotiate contract terms to allow Interim clearances.
- Pre-cleared contracts. Recruit National Guard soldiers who have already been granted clearances.
Ideas for P-20 education
- Clearance pipeline. Build the talent pipeline through student internships who can undergo the clearance process and gain experience.
- Pre-check. Schools can require applicant background checks in related programs.
Federal policy considerations
- Investigation times
- Reduce in-person meeting needs upon establishing references.
- Assess classification criteria
- Ensure classification parameters improve security.
- Non-classified work
- Allow cleared facilities to have areas for non-cleared employees.
- Leverage technology
- Automate parts of the process with online verification technology.
- Agency reciprocity
- Set standards across agencies to avoid redundant investigations.
- During the vetting process, better distinguish between poor judgment and real character risk.
- Decouple investigation from contract
- Allow individuals to pay for their clearance investigations.