PSC Warns Against Vilification of Contractors in Security Clearance Debate

Arlington, Va., February 10, 2014The Professional Services Council today warned Congress and the administration to avoid focusing solely on contractors as they review security clearance procedures because such a narrow focus could leave significant gaps that would jeopardize national security.

PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway issued the following statement
regarding tomorrow’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on fixing the security clearance process:

While PSC welcomes the security clearance reviews being conducted by the Office of Management and Budget, the Defense Department, the Navy and Congress, we urge that they focus on procedures and processes, not whether all security clearance functions should be performed in-house. There is nothing inherently governmental about background investigations. In fact, contractors were instrumental in aiding OPM to clear the security clearance backlog over the past decade and getting the issue removed from the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List.

It is disingenuous to focus solely on contractor investigation performance issues when numerous cases exist in which the Office of Personnel Management’s in-house investigators failed to follow proper procedures. There is too much at stake to ignore shortcuts by either OPM or contractor personnel. But to solely vilify contractors fails to address the totality of the issues.

What is needed are reforms that focus on modernizing the security clearance process, moving toward meaningful continuous evaluations, and improving information sharing among law enforcement, investigators, and government security clearance adjudicators. All alterations to the process must ensure appropriate accountability for all parties and recognize that contracting to conduct such investigations, with proper oversight, is an effective and efficient process given the irregular and uncertain pace of the workload. Getting reform right is key to preventing future threats and tragedies.

PSC looks forward to continued collaboration with Congress and the administration as their work on security clearances evolves.

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About PSC: PSC is the voice of the government professional and technical services industry. PSC’s more than 370 member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses that provide federal agencies with services of all kinds, including information technology, engineering, logistics, facilities management, operations and maintenance, consulting, international development, scientific, social, environmental services, and more. Together, the trade association’s members employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states. Follow PSC on Twitter @PSCSpeaks and @StanSoloway.