Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes. Senator Collins is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senator Warner is the Vice Chairman of the Committee.
“The security clearance system is critical to protecting our country from harm and safeguarding access to our secrets. Americans should have the utmost confidence in the integrity of the security clearance process,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would make the current system more fair and transparent by ensuring that decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances are based solely on established guidelines.”
“Americans should be able to have confidence that the security clearance process is being used only to protect our nation’s greatest secrets,” said Senator Warner. “Our bipartisan bill will make clear that security clearances are not to be used as a tool to punish political opponents or reward family members, but to ensure personnel are thoroughly vetted to the highest standards.”
The Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act would ensure that the security clearance process is fair, objective, transparent, and accountable by requiring decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances to be based on published criteria. It would explicitly prohibit the executive branch from revoking security clearances based on the exercise of constitutional rights, such as the right to freely express political views, or for purposes of political retaliation. It would also ban agencies from using security clearances to punish whistleblowers or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, religion, age, handicap, or national origin.
The bipartisan bill would also codify in statute the right of government employees to appeal decisions to deny or revoke a security clearance, and require the government to publicly publish the results of such appeals – providing transparency, accountability and basic due process rights in an otherwise opaque and irregular process.
The legislation aims to enhance the rigor and accountability of our security clearance process and to prevent abuses. It complements other reforms the executive branch is undertaking to modernize how the government processes clearances, and was developed with input from a wide range of experts across the government and in private law practice.
Click HERE for the full-text of the bill.