DOD Personnel:

More Actions Needed to Address Backlog of Security Clearance Reinvestigations

NSIAD-00-215: Published: Aug 18, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 2000.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Carol R. Schuster
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) estimates of its reinvestigation backlog, focusing on: (1) how DOD estimates the backlog; (2) the soundness of DOD's backlog estimates; and (3) DOD's plans to address the backlog problem.

GAO noted that: (1) in the absence of a Department-wide database that can accurately measure the reinvestigation backlog, DOD estimates the backlog on an ad-hoc basis, using two primary methods--manual counts and statistical sampling; (2) using the counting method, the military services and Defense agencies ask security managers to review their personnel and count those overdue for a reinvestigation; (3) the counts are totalled to provide a DOD-wide backlog estimate; (4) using the sampling method, DOD makes a rough--and known to be inaccurate--estimate from existing personnel security databases; (5) it then selects a random sample of individuals from this estimate and surveys them to determine whether they are associated with DOD, require a security clearance, and are overdue for a reinvestigation; (6) DOD uses this information and statistical analysis to develop a refined and more accurate estimate; (7) DOD's two most recent estimates each used a different method and arrived at similar results--about one of every five individuals with a security clearance is overdue for a reinvestigation; (8) however, both estimates had methodological limitations, were 6 months old or older by the time they were reported, and excluded thousands of overdue reinvestigations because they used a restricted backlog definition; (9) using the counting method, DOD reported that the backlog totalled 505,786, however, the estimate's accuracy is questionable; (10) using the sampling method, a DOD contractor estimated the backlog to be between 451,757 and 558,552, however, the contractor did not verify certain data; (11) DOD recognizes that the reinvestigation backlog is a problem; (12) after not making progress in meeting an earlier goal to eliminate the backlog, the services and other Defense agencies, at the direction of the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the DOD Comptroller, have begun to formulate plans to eliminate the backlog by March 31, 2002; (13) DOD also plans to implement a new personnel security database in mid-2001; (14) among other things, the database is designed to include information that could allow real-time counts of overdue reinvestigations; and (15) however, DOD has not specified how it plans to ensure that future reinvestigation requests are submitted when they are due or use the information in the new personnel security database system to help manage the reinvestigation program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During the field testing of the system, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence) has begun to use direct queries to obtain key data from the database. They will continue to expand the queries and to use them on a routine basis to track the timeliness of reinvestigations.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of DOD's personnel security reinvestigation program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence) to design routine reports with key data from the Joint Personnel Adjudication System database to show the full extent of overdue reinvestigations, including those overdue but not yet submitted for update and those in process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence) issued a memorandum stating the policy that if security clearances requiring reinvestigations are not submitted for the reinvestigation, they must be administratively terminated or downgraded without prejudice to the individual. When the Joint Personnel Adjudication System is fully implemented, the Assistant Secretary can track the overdue reinvestigations and enforce this policy. In addition, the Joint Personnel Adjudication System has been designed with internal checks that provides internal controls for ensuring data consistency and queries to determine outdated information.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of DOD's personnel security reinvestigation program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence) to develop appropriate incentives to encourage agency security managers to keep information in the database current and to submit reinvestigation requests on time. Changes in existing regulations, policies, and procedures may be necessary to provide such incentives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 22, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 25, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here