The federal system for awarding security clearances was in disarray when President Trump was inaugurated. An Obama-era decision to terminate the contract of the company conducting most of the government’s background checks led to long delays in completing investigations. Within months after Trump took office, the backlog of open investigations had risen to over 700,000. At that point, Congress passed legislation directing that all defense-related clearance activities be shifted from the Office of Personnel Management to a Pentagon agency. The Trump Administration then decided the Defense Security Service should perform all clearance investigations, both civil and military. Meanwhile, the re-investigation of people already holding clearances shifted from periodic checks to continuous evaluation using online databases. With more investigators hired and new quality standards in place, the system seems to be improving even before the shift of personnel is completed: the cumulative backlog is shrinking 3,000-4,000 cases each week. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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