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Individuals working for the private industry are playing a larger role in national security work conducted by Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies. As of May 2006, industry personnel held about 34 percent of DOD-maintained personnel security clearances. The damage that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information can cause to national security necessitates the prompt and careful consideration of who is granted a security clearance. Long-standing delays in determining clearance eligibility and other challenges led GAO to designate the DOD personnel security clearance program as a high-risk area in January 2005 and again in GAO's January 2007 update of the high-risk areas. In February 2005, DOD transferred its security clearance investigations functions to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and now obtains almost all of its clearance investigations from OPM. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for effective implementation of policy relating to determinations of eligibility for access to classified information. This testimony addresses the timeliness of the process and completeness of documentation used to determine eligibility of industry personnel for top secret clearances in January and February 2006. This statement relies primarily on GAO's September 2006 report (GAO-06-1070).

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