The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for about 2 million active personnel security clearances. About one-third of the clearances are for industry personnel working on contracts for DOD and more than 20 other executive agencies. Delays in determining eligibility for a clearance can heighten the risk that classified information will be disclosed to unauthorized sources and increase contract costs and problems attracting and retaining qualified personnel. Long-standing delays in completing hundreds of thousands of clearance requests and numerous impediments that hinder DOD's ability to accurately estimate and eliminate its clearance backlog led GAO to declare DOD's personnel security clearance program a high-risk area in January 2005. This testimony presents GAO's (1) preliminary observations from its ongoing review of the timeliness and completeness of clearances, (2) concerns about the upcoming expiration of an executive order that has resulted in high level commitment to improving the governmentwide clearance process, and (3) views on factors underlying DOD's decision to stop accepting clearance requests for industry personnel.
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