Federal Manager's Daily Report

A key House member on security clearance issues has backed scrutiny of social medial postings for purposes of obtaining or renewing a security clearance, which is necessary to hold many federal jobs.

Rep. Jackie Spier, D-Calif., head of the Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, said that social media channels are often “used by domestic terrorist groups” but are not sufficiently reviewed in clearance investigations “despite collection and reporting of other intrusive, private data, such as financial and behavioral health information” on individuals being screened.

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In a letter to the White House, DoD and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, she called for “identifying white supremacy and violent extremism as a critical threat that must be considered as part of the security clearance adjudication process and directing all relevant agencies to update the background investigation process to incorporate a review of social media information to identify white-supremacist or violent-extremist ties.”

“This would involve, at a minimum, updating the Office of Personnel Management’s Standard Form 86 to ask applicants for national security positions to disclose all social media platforms on which they participate and all social media handles used and to grant permission to share nonpublic social media information with investigators,” she wrote.

In addition, she said the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency “should be directed to develop practical means to review social media information” for such activities, starting with the highest level of clearances, if a phased in approach is necessary.

A bill (HR-353) already pending in the House seeks many of the same changes; such proposals often are not enacted individually but rather attached to the annual defense authorization bill. Speier noted that last year’s version of that bill contained language she sponsored regarding military personnel but that even stronger language originally passed by the House was dropped in a conference with the Senate.

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