Tester doubles down to reform security clearance process

Senator reintroduces SCARE Act

(U.S. SENATE) – In his continuing effort to reform the nation’s security clearance process, Senator Jon Tester today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ensure the nation’s most sensitive information is kept in safe hands.

Tester’s bill, the Security Clearance Accountability, Reform, and Enhancement (SCARE) Act, strengthens the security clearance process by prohibiting federal contractors and employees who have compromised the integrity of a background investigation from performing future background investigations. The bill also forces the federal government to update its policy determining which positions actually require a security clearance.

“Our national security is too important to not take the background investigation process seriously. Folks with security clearances have access to our nation’s most sensitive information, and that’s why folks who conduct clearance investigations need to be held to the highest standards,” Tester said. “Let’s take a fresh look at who needs a security clearance by increasing transparency and improving oversight.”

Tester, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, first introduced the SCARE Act and the Preventing Conflicts of Interests with Contractors Act in the 113th Congress after the high-profile cases of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis revealed serious lapses in the screening process.

Tester’s legislation also addresses U.S. Department of Justice allegations that USIS, a former government contractor, approved its own incomplete investigations in order to receive payment and bonuses from the federal government. Both the SCARE Act and the Preventing Conflicts of Interests with Contractors Act passed the Senate unanimously in the 113th Congress, but were not taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives. This Congress, Tester has combined the two bills into one.

Last year in reaction to Tester’s legislation, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced it will not allow final quality reviews to be done by the same people who conduct the background investigation. This policy change is not permanent and could easily be reversed by a future agency director.

Tester’s SCARE Act, which is cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and David Vitter (R-La.), is available online HERE.