COLLINS, MCCASKILL, AYOTTE, HEITKAMP HAIL INTEL COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF ENHANCED SECURITY CLEARANCE ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) that would overhaul the nation’s security clearance process recently passed out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as a part of the Intelligence Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2016.

The Enhanced Security Clearance Act would implement automated random reviews of public records and databases for any information that might affect the security clearance status of individuals who hold such a clearance. The adopted measure also requires the DNI to develop and implement a plan for eliminating the backlog of overdue periodic investigations.

The bipartisan bill requires the federal government to implement an automated review that would search public records and databases for information on every individual with a security clearance at least twice, at random times, every five years. These audits would identify information that these individuals are already obligated by law to disclose, including information relating to any criminal or civil legal proceedings; financial information relating to the covered individual; data maintained on any terrorist or criminal watch list; and any publicly-available information that suggests ill intent, vulnerability to blackmail, compulsive behavior, and allegiance to another country.

If, in the course of a randomly timed audit required under the Senators’ bill, the review finds any information pertinent to security clearance, the agency will follow the procedures already established under current law to make an informed determination as to the individual’s ongoing employment, level of clearance, and access to classified information.

“The gaping holes in our current national security clearance process allow individuals who demonstrate obvious high-risk behavior to access to classified information. This bipartisan legislation strikes the important balance between the need to process clearances quickly and efficiently, while also making certain that the process is thorough enough to detect potential problems,” said Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “The Enhanced Security Clearance Act represents a sensible path forward to protect our national security, ensure faith in our federal workforce, and help prevent future tragedies.”

“We’re one step closer to our goal of boosting safety for all Americans. Our national security is threatened if folks with access to classified information can’t be trusted. With more rigid oversight and automated, repeated background checks, this bipartisan legislation provides a better, safer system that should also help boost Americans’ confidence in their government.” said Senator McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

“We have identified serious gaps in the government’s current security clearance system that could undermine the safety of the federal workforce and our national security,” said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “Our bipartisan bill includes critical oversight measures to address these shortfalls, including requiring random audits to better identify and address potential security risks, and I’m pleased that the Intelligence Committee recently approved our common sense legislation.”

“We have seen gaps in our nation’s security clearance system, and we need strong reforms to put a precise review process in place both for those already in the system and those seeking clearance,” said Senator Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “Our bipartisan bill would make commonsense changes so the system is secure while also remaining efficient, as we should be able to accomplish both goals.”

The Collins-McCaskill-Ayotte-Heitkamp legislation introduced last year has been endorsed by:

•Federal Managers Association;

•The FBI Agents Association;

•The Alcohol-Tobacco-Firearms and Explosives Association;

•The International Association of Chiefs of Police

•The National Native American Law Enforcement Association;

•General Dynamics Information Technologies;

•LexisNexis;

•Lt. Gen. Charles J. Cunningham Jr., Former Director of the Defense Security Service (1999-2002);

•Brian Stafford, Former Director of the United States Secret Service (1999-2003);

•Howard Safir, Former Police Commissioner of New York City (1996-2000);

•Floyd Clarke, Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1993);

•Michael Sullivan, Former Acting Director of the ATF (2006-2009) and US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts (2001-2009);

•TechAmerica Foundation; and

•The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.