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Warner measures to revamp security clearance process added to Intel Authorization Act passed by Senate Intel Committee

mark warnerToday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously approved the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, which includes measures introduced by the Committee’s Vice Chairman, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), to modernize our antiquated security clearance process, reduce the background investigation inventory of more than 700,000 cases, and bring greater accountability to the system.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced earlier this year that it added the government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process to their High-Risk List of federal areas in need of either broad-based transformation or specific reform to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

“It has long been clear that the 70-year-old process that grants security clearances to government personnel and contractors is in desperate need of reform,” said Sen. Warner.  “I am pleased this bill provides a fix for this broken process and begins to ease the growing security clearance backlog that undermines the government’s ability to deploy the right people to address some of our greatest national security challenges.”

Every year, Congress authorizes intelligence funding through the Intelligence Authorization Act to counter terrorist threats, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enhance counterintelligence, conduct covert actions and collect and analyze intelligence around the world. The bill reflects the intelligence committee’s oversight over the past year and its consideration of the president’s budgetary and legislative requests.

The legislation includes several provisions from Senator Warner to revamp the security clearance system, including:

  • Holding the Executive Branch accountable for making progress on much needed reform;
  • Promoting information sharing between and among government agencies and industry to prevent personnel with security risks from being inadvertently passed around;
  • Requiring swift reciprocity for recognizing clearances among agencies;
  • Switching to a responsive Continuous Evaluation model instead of standard periodic re-investigations for 90 percent of clearance holders;
  • Requiring consistent treatment of government and contract personnel in the clearance system and setting a government-wide policy for interim clearances;
  • Expediting background investigations by taking advantage of innovative techniques and technologies for verifying information.

In addition, the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) included a provision supported by Vice Chairman Warner to require the Director of National Intelligence to report on the Intelligence Community’s outreach to U.S. businesses and other non-government entities on efforts by adversaries such as China to acquire technology, intellectual property, and R&D.

The bill also continues initiatives the Senate Intelligence Committee has undertaken on a bipartisan basis to push the Intelligence Community to foster innovation in its approach to overhead satellite systems. And as we approach the 2018 elections, the bill includes important measures to protect U.S. federal and state election systems – including from Russian threats – and to improve information sharing with states to ensure the integrity of the election process.

Sen. Warner has been a strong voice on security clearance reform, urging the White House to prioritize reforms to the clearance process.

For the full list of the security clearance measures included in the IAA, click here.