The backlog of security clearances being processed by the Office of Personnel Management has grown to 570,000. On average, it takes over 500 days for OPM to make its initial determination as to whether it will grant a Top Secret clearance — and that isn’t even the end of the process. Obviously, such delays waste a lot of taxpayer money. If a military contractor hires a new engineer for $100,000 per year and there is a 300-day wait before a clearance is granted, the government is billed over $200,000 to cover the expense of an under-productive employee’s salary and benefits. Multiply that by many tens of thousands of personnel awaiting clearances, add in the additional costs of program delays and other inefficiencies, and the you have the makings of a multi-billion-dollar problem. The system for conducting background checks and credentialing people working on sensitive programs needs to be reformed. Trade groups such as the Aerospace Industries Association could play a key role in pushing reforms forward during the Trump years. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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