Tester pushes Obama Administration to increase government transparency

Senator demands answers on security clearances, administrative leave, and federal workforces issues

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today pushed a senior Obama Administration official to increase transparency and efficiency in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

During a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs hearing, Tester asked OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert to provide updates on the critical challenges facing the federal agency responsible for screening applicants for security clearances and setting employment policies for two million federal employees.

“I have a responsibility to hold the federal government accountable and ensure it’s working efficiently and effectively for the people of Montana,” Tester said. “We’ve got to reform the security clearance process, save millions of dollars in administrative leave, and give well-qualified folks an opportunity to advance their careers. This is common-sense stuff.”

Tester pushed Cobert to define how federal agencies use administrative leave, or extended paid leave, for employees who are unable to work because of alleged misconduct. Last week, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation that will curtail the federal government’s ability to abuse administrative leave, which has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

Tester also asked for an update on the National Background Investigations Bureau, which will conduct background investigations for security clearances. Tester’s legislation to improve the security clearance process was recently signed into law.

In addition, Cobert provided Tester with an update on his Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act, which was signed into law in August, and allows temporary seasonal wildland firefighters to compete for vacant permanent positions in the federal workforce.