By Frank Lewis
October 13, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
If you have wondered how someone who leaks important government documents or a government contractor who walks into a place of work and commits an atrocity ever got such a job in the first place, you are not alone. Thursday night, the bipartisan Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-MT), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce Subcommittee, passed the Senate.
The bill would increase oversight over how the government conducts background investigations. Portman and Tester will now work with their colleagues in the House of Representatives and urge them to pass companion legislation in order to get the bill to the President’s desk.
“The recent cases of Edward Snowden and the tragic events that transpired at the Navy Yard underscore the importance of improving oversight of the security clearance process,” Portman said. “Senate passage of the bill is a step in the right direction toward fixing the faults in our system, and I urge swift passage in the House of Representatives.”
The SCORE Act is a product of a recent joint HSGAC hearing that revealed that the contractor who conducted Snowden’s background check is under investigation.
During the Senators’ June hearing, witnesses testified that a lack of oversight and information sharing threatened the security of classified information. In response, Portman said the bill will empower the OPM Inspector General to use resources from its Revolving Fund to audit and investigate OPM management, employees, and contractors that conduct background checks.
The Senators also sent a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting that the GAO examine the security clearance process and report how various federal agencies can streamline and improve clearance investigations.
In September 2013, Portman and Tester also teamed up to send a letter to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calling for a thorough review of the security clearance background investigation(s) conducted for Aaron Alexis, the alleged perpetrator of the mass killing of 12 people at the Navy Yard complex in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 16, 2013.
Portman and Tester plan to have their next hearing on the security clearance process on Oct. 22, to follow-up on topics presented at the last hearing and new issues identified since the Navy Yard incident.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.