Nuclear Security:

DOE's Progress on Reducing Its Security Clearance Work Load

RCED-93-183: Published: Aug 12, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to reduce the processing time for security clearances for federal and contractor employees.

GAO found that: (1) DOE has decreased its personnel security workload and reinvestigation backlog since 1988; (2) as of June 1993, DOE had reduced its reinvestigation backlog by more than 99 percent; (3) programmatic changes within the nuclear weapons complex could reduce the annual clearance workload; (4) contractors complained of the lengthy delays in processing clearances after DOE instituted its expanded reinvestigation program in 1985; (5) contractors could not recall any significant adverse effects on their operations or DOE programs due to the processing delays; and (6) DOE increased its staff and reduced the number of clearances to expedite its security clearance process.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE has modified the language of its Acquisition Regulation, Subpart 970.22, paragraph 970.2201(b)(ii), to require "Where a security clearance will be required, the applicants' job qualifications and suitability must be established before a request is made to DOE for a security clearance."

    Recommendation: To improve DOE management of its personnel security clearance work load and to help process security clearances in a more timely manner, the Secretary of Energy should develop and issue guidelines requiring: (1) contractors to certify the extent of their preemployment checks conducted on prospective employees; and (2) closer departmental oversight of the process of screening applicants, including verification of preemployment checks, as warranted.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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