Security Clearance Freeze Becoming an Industry Issue
In a statement e-mailed to contractors April 28, 2006, the Defense Security Service reportedly told recipients that they had “discontinued accepting industry requests for new personnel security clearances and periodic reinvestigations effective immediately and until further notice.” DID has noted the skyrocketing demand for clearances in the wake of 9/11, and DSS officials claim the agency had received more than 100,000 applications between October 2005 and March 2006. The Washington Times notes that this is creating serious issues, as people need security clearances in order to do anything from staffing contractor projects in Iraq and Afghanistan to working on weapons system production or maintenance.
The process of issuing these clearances can take up to 18 months, and costs thousands of dollars. A Congressionally mandated reform in 2004 shifted the investigations to the Office of Personnel Management, which bills the Defense Security Service for the work. At present, DSS has reportedly run out of money to pay for the investigations and is holding back some 3,000 applications. Congressional staffers estimated the agency’s shortfall at between $75 million and $100 million. It is not known whether DSS will continue to issue interim clearances for applicants deemed low-risk. Meanwhile, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III [R-VA-11th] plans to hold hearings on the issue, if DID readers want to contact an interested Congressman.