FEDweek

Policy on Monitoring Clearance Holders Not Gaining Traction, Says GAO

Agencies are continuing to struggle to carry out an initiative to expand “continuous evaluations” of federal employees and others who hold security clearances, GAO has said in a report echoing previous findings.

Continuous evaluation has been expected to result in more clearances being revoked and thus impacting the careers of employees in positions where a clearance is required. It involves ongoing monitoring of the types of public records of financial activities and legal issues that are examined in initial clearance determinations and in periodic re-evaluations of current clearance holders.

The process was initially envisioned nearly a decade ago to supplement and to an extent replace those re-evaluations and received additional emphasis in 2014 OMB guidance that among other things set a series of milestones for government-wide use.

However, GAO said that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “has not yet determined key aspects of the program, and it lacks plans for implementing, monitoring, and measuring program performance” and that without such guidance full implementation may be further delayed.

Agencies including DoD and State that have moved ahead with pilot projects meanwhile are concerned that continuous evaluation will increase their workloads and costs, it said.

Even where continuous evaluation is being conducted, GAO added, its value can be questionable. It said State has found, “among other things, that while public records can provide coverage beyond the traditional scope of investigations, the quality of the information varies, and not all jurisdictions participate.”