Security clearance updates

For the past two years, the Defense Security Service (DSS) has been advising security officers to submit periodic reinvestigations for Tier 5 (Top Secret) investigations at the 6 year mark, rather than 5 years. The move was an effort to reduce the growing security clearance backlog, and allow the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) to make initial investigations a priority. Like most directives, however, implementation has created confusion across some offices. Security officers who merely look at the date without the context of the policy directive may have refused access to individuals with out of scope investigations, despite numerous policy memos noting that security clearance eligibility doesn’t expire if the candidate remains in-access.

In a sign the government aims to keep the 6-year PR rather than move back to 5 years, the Pentagon recently issued guidance clarifying that access to Special Access Programs (SAP) may continue even if investigations are past 6 years.

Previously, the personnel requirements for SAP were:

  • “Current investigative scope within 5 years.
  • No potentially disqualifying information.
  • Periodic reinvestigation reflected a “submitted” date in the DoD system of record (JPAS or JVS) within 5 years of the closed date of the last completed investigation.”

In a memo released by the Pentagon last week, these requirements were altered thusly:

  • “Current investigative scope within 6 years.
  • No potentially disqualifying information.
  • Periodic reinvestigation reflects “PSQ Submitted” date in the DoD system of record within 6 years of the closed date of the last completed investigation. Or
  • If the nominee submitted a new PSQ, and the DoD system of record does not reflect the PSQ submission date, a printed copy of the e-QIP signature page may be accepted by cognizant PSO to validate submission was completed within 6 years of the closed date of the last completed investigation.
  • If the nominee meets the above standards for a current investigation, a Letter of Compelling Need is not required.”

It goes on to clarify, however, that access to SAP information or facilities will not be denied solely on the grounds of a reinvestigation dated greater than six years. The memo is signed by the Director of the Special Access Program, Maj. Gen. John Horner, USAF.

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