Tester's security clearance bill clears the Senate

Senator: ‘It’s past time to make wholesale reforms’

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today hailed passage of another of his bills to reform the security clearance process after the Senate unanimously passed his Preventing Conflicts of Interest with Contractors Act.

“Just days after the first anniversary of the Navy Yard shooting, I’m pleased the Senate is taking steps to ensure tragedies like this don’t happen again,” Tester said. “We have been playing fast and loose with the background investigation process, and it’s past time to make wholesale reforms. This bill is a step in the right direction, and I’m pleased it’s moving forward.”

Tester’s bill would prohibit federal agencies, when they employ a contractor to perform background investigations, from allowing that contractor to perform the final quality review of its own work. The legislation stems from a federal case where USIS – a background investigation contractor – was improperly approving hundreds of thousands of background investigations despite the files being incomplete.

After the high-profile cases of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, Tester – a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee – began an effort in Congress to reform the background security process.

Tester’s SCORE Act was signed into law earlier this year, allowing the Office of Personnel Management’s watchdog to more thoroughly investigate cases where the integrity of a background check may have been compromised. Tester is also sponsoring the SCARE Act that prohibits federal employees and contractors found to have compromised the integrity of a background investigation from performing background investigations from that point forward. That legislation – which is awaiting consideration by the full Senate – also requires government agencies update their policies to determine which positions require a security clearance.

Tester’s Preventing Conflicts of Interest with Contractors Act is available online HERE, and a one page summary is available online HERE.