Tester: We Must Enhance Oversight of the Security Clearance Process

Senator Responds After GAO Adds Clearance Process to its “High Risk List”

(U.S. Senate) – As one of Congress’ fiercest advocates for reforming the security clearance process, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today issued the following statement after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced it would be adding the government-wide personnel security clearance process to its High Risk List, which highlights the government agencies and programs most in need of significant reform.

“This is flat out unacceptable,”
Tester said. “These are the people responsible for protecting our nation’s most sensitive information. If this process is compromised, our national security is compromised. It’s just that simple. We’ve done a lot to initiate change in recent years and as these reforms are implemented I will be doing everything I can to close the loopholes, identify the weaknesses, and address the backlog plaguing this process.”

The GAO wasn’t scheduled to update its High Risk List until early 2019, but after publishing two critical reports on the clearance process in November and December of last year, the GAO felt “it was important to call attention to the challenges of the government-wide personnel security clearance process now.”

Tester has a long track record of working to reform the federal security clearance process. After a number of high-profile leaks and lapses, Tester held a series of oversight hearings on the security clearance screening process. As a result, he introduced the SCORE Act, which was signed into law and dedicates more resources to investigating cases where the background check process may have been compromised.

Tester also introduced the SCARE Act to prohibit federal contractors and employees who have compromised the integrity of a background investigation from performing them in the future. Parts of Tester’s SCARE Act were subsequently incorporated into the SECRET Act of 2017, which directs the President to examine all national security positions across federal and contracted employees to determine whether those positions require a security clearance.