ODNI: Security clearances on the rise

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Slightly more than 4.2 million people held security clearances, as of Oct.1, 2010, according to a congressional report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, made public Sept. 20 by the Federation of American Scientists.

In fiscal 2010, close to 643,000 security clearances were approved, while nearly 600,000 confidential, secret and top secret clearances were terminated. From fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2010, the total number of clearances increased by a net of 45,000.

As of Oct. 1, 2010, approximately 2.1 million federal employees held a confidential or secret clearance, while about 540,000 contractors held the same level of clearance.

The disparity between government and contractor clearance holders decreased drastically for top secret and sensitive compartmented information clearances, however. As of Oct. 1, 2010 approximately 666,000 government employees held collateral and TS/SCI clearances, while about 525,000 contractors held the same level of clearance. (Note: Clearance numbers do not add up to 4.2 million as an "other" category including personnel whose category field was not filled-in in the databases accounts for the gap.)

The number of cleared workers growing, but the report also claims the timeliness of security clearance determinations is improving. The report attributes progress in this area to advancement in processes and automation.

ODNI lacks a truly comprehensive view of the timeliness of clearance determinations. Only seven IC agencies have delegated investigative authority to report on clearance determinations. "The ODNI is actively addressing this annual reporting requirement with all IC organizations to make the necessary process or records tracking changes so that this detailed information may be collected for future reports," notes the report.

Of the seven reporting agencies, four said they had cases open in excess of one year; one had no cases pending for over a year; one had systems problems and could not provide any data; and one did not provide any data in response to the special data call, notes the report.

The four reporting IC agencies provided data on 48 government employee cases and 167 contractor cases, a total of 215 cases, that have been pending or were closed in excess of one year. According to the report, more than half of these cases cited "multiple issues" as the reason for delay. "While this is only a small sampling of the total number of cases over a year old, we believe it is likely representative of the issues causing delays based on experience throughout all elements of the IC," reports ODNI.

For more:
- see ODNI report (.pdf)
- see FAS's Secrecy News post

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