Congress Urged to Retain Background Check Reforms in Intelligence Appropriations Bill to Reduce Backlog in Investigations

Government Regulations

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Representatives of industries supporting national security have sent a letter to House and Senate Intelligence Committee leaders urging them to retain critical background check reforms to the security clearance process in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 that would speed up information collection to reduce a backlog of over 700,000 pending government investigations.

The letter – dated August 6, 2018 – was signed by the Aerospace Industries Association, Intelligence and National Security Alliance, National Defense Industrial Association, Northern Virginia Technology Council, and Professional Services Council. They all urged Congress to use the intelligence appropriations bill to make sweeping reforms to the government’s antiquated background check clearance process.

The letter states: The persistent backlog of nearly 700,000 cases in process and the unacceptably long wait times for a security clearance are pressing matters for industry, but more importantly, they undermine the national security missions our members support. This provision would establish clear, concrete performance expectations for the Executive Branch, to which Congress could hold it accountable.

The intelligence appropriations bill would require the Performance Accountability Council (PAC) to submit to Congress a plan to reduce the background check backlog to 500,000 by the end of 2018 and to 200,000 by the end of 2019. The bill also would require the PAC to meet timeliness goals for security clearances (30 days for secret/90 days for top secret) and for reciprocal recognition of clearances (2 weeks or fewer).

The Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 (H.R. 6237/S. 3135) authorizes funding for the Intelligence Community, including military intelligence programs, for Fiscal Years 2018-2019. A key component of congressional oversight responsibilities, the bill sets policy and authorizes resources for intelligence, counterterrorism, warfighting, and cybersecurity activities.

On October 1, 2016, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) was officially launched with the mission of delivering efficient and effective background investigations to ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of the federal workforce. Housed in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the NBIB strives to improve how the Federal government conducts and delivers background investigations.

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