Security Clearance Reinvestigations of Employees Has Not Been Timely at the Department of Energy

T-RCED-87-14: Published: Apr 9, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 1987.

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GAO discussed its review of the Department of Energy's (DOE) reinvestigation of employee security clearances at DOE headquarters and at three operations centers. GAO found that: (1) DOE has not performed timely periodic reinvestigations to determine if previously cleared employees have developed personal problems which could endanger national security; (2) some cleared DOE employees were engaged in activities, such as drug use, that raised questions about their suitability for clearance; and (3) if reinvestigations had been timely, DOE would have been able to identify potential problems before assigning personnel to sensitive positions. DOE attributes its inability to meet reinvestigation requirements to: (1) management inattention; (2) inadequate budget and staff resources; and (3) an increase in the work load that a revised clearance questionnaire generated. GAO found that: (1) DOE headquarters and two of the three centers it reviewed did not fully implement the reinvestigation policy prior to December 1985; (2) from fiscal years 1984 through 1987, DOE budget submissions reported adequate funds to meet clearance requirements; and (3) new DOE security requirements resulted in an immediate backlog of 76,000 employees requiring reinvestigation because DOE provided no additional resources. GAO believes that DOE should: (1) develop a plan to bring headquarters and the field offices into compliance with its December 1985 Personnel Security Program Order; (2) reduce clearance numbers and levels to ensure that only those employees who require clearances have them; and (3) report annually on its compliance with the plan.

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