Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Jan. 22 that the Federal government’s backlog of security clearance has fallen to near 200,000, from its peak of 725,000 backlog applications in 2018.
The senator disclosed the substantially improved backlog figure following a closed-door committee hearing.
Last October, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) stated the security clearance backlog figure at about 302,000. That’s about the time that OPM officially transferred the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to the Defense Department (DoD), a move that made the Pentagon responsible for about 95 percent of Federal government security clearance investigations.
Sen. Burr said he was pleased that the investigation backlog has declined to “a steady-state level of just over 200,000.” He continued, “with the backlog under better control, the next phase of Trusted Workforce 2.0 is about to begin. The proposed reforms would aim to revamp the security clearance process and ensure our nation’s secrets are protected.”
The Trusted Workforce 2.0 effort, according to press reports and descriptions by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), would provide for more continuous security evaluations assisted by improved IT architecture and business processes.
“These reforms cannot come a moment too soon,” Burr said. “Our Intelligence Community is only as good as its people, but too often our most promising recruits get stuck in a discouraging, years-long clearance process before they can begin work,” he said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, urged the Director of National Intelligence and OPM to “implement Trusted Workforce 2.0 without delay.” He continued, “for this effort to be effective, the executive branch must provide a specific plan of action that demonstrates the new system will be more effective and efficient than the old one; identify obstacles and mitigation strategies; and service all stakeholders equitably.”