Given the current economic environment and demands to minimize government spending, improvements in government efficiency, particularly in the area of national security, are critical.
To address these needs, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) Security Clearance Reform Task Force released a white paper entitled “Next Steps for Security Reform: Industry Proposals to Enhance Efficiency and Reduce Costs in National Security Contracts.”
It addresses the costly delays related to security clearances and recommends actions which could save hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
When asked about the driving philosophy behind the development of the Task Force and paper, Charlie Allen, the Chair of the INSA Security Clearance Task Force and former Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence Analysis, commented, “The members all share the same belief that these inefficiencies can be greatly reduced. By taking action now we can conserve our resources and ensure our capacity for critical national security activities in the future.”
According to conservative estimates, 10 to 20 percent of contractors, paid for by the government, may not be on the job because of delays caused by security clearance issues. This results in lost man-hours and a waste of scarce taxpayer dollars; modest improvements could save hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The Task Force reached a consensus on six critical overarching ways to promote efficiency and improve security practices at reduced costs, while allowing government and industry to work together. They are:
- Track contractor security costs, including high level clearances and secure facility usage, and for the timeliness of policy implementation and reinvestigations
- Provide contracting officials with improved security guidelines
- Implement flexible approaches for cleared contractors to access sensitive information in the short-term
- Support industry security structures that permit the anticipation of government needs, and development of solutions and innovations
- Promote a level playing field across industry for large and small companies
- Apply security policies clearly and consistently across agencies and companies
The Task Force’s specific recommendations stem from the six points outlined above with the goal of helping government to maximize national security programs and minimize costs to U.S. taxpayers. The recommendations include:
- Align contracting and security clearance processes to reduce costs for industry and government
- Ensure clearance portability
- Follow suitability and investigative standards
- Spin off a low-side version of Scattered Castles, the Intelligence Community’s (IC) database for all security and access information
- Invest in personnel security automation that is reliable and cost efficient
- Encourage conversations across programs and contracts, and temporary storage in secure facilities.
Ellen McCarthy, President of INSA, commented, “We have worked over the past several years to ensure that government continues to have a trusted contractor workforce that can accomplish more but cost less. We hope to create a space that allows conversations across programs and contracts while aligning security and contracting processes to ensure an effective and efficient national security clearance process.”
This white paper seeks to energize the dialogue on security policy and the reforms needed to achieve a streamlined, cost effective process that enables more efficient collaboration between the government and industry contractors.
Over the coming months, the INSA Security Clearance Reform Task Force members will work to forge a public-private partnership with the DNI, government agency leaders and interested Congressional staff to discuss security reform issues.
This group will discuss ideas and solutions for reforming the security clearance process and work to develop concepts for collecting data on contractor security related costs.