The House could vote at any time on a bill (HR-3737) encouraging more scrutiny of federal employees’ social media accounts during security clearance investigations or reinvestigations, expanding on current policies.
The measure passed the committee level in the fall but an explanatory report has just been filed, commonly an indicator that a floor vote is pending. It would require OMB to assess the current scrutiny of social media during investigations, any current legal impediments, and the results of any pilot programs conducted to incorporate social media into background investigations.
Under a policy announced in 2016, scrutiny of publicly available social media is to be a standard part of background investigations, although it is not clear how widely that occurs in practice, says the House report. Several agencies have conducted pilot programs but “only some of the results of these programs are publicly available, and what is available does not contain clear analyses or conclusions,” it says.
Some members of Congress have advocated for a requirement that security clearance applicants or holders be required to divulge even information not publicly available.
The bill also would require OMB to report on the “available options for broader implementation of social media checks and the cost estimates for such a program,” it says, adding that “a preliminary check of a subject’s social media could prove more effective than many current parts of clearance investigations.”