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Missouri Senator, continuing to lead the way on reforming security clearance process, grills officials on failings in Snowden, Alexis cases

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (MO.)

McCaskill to OPM: ‘The notion that you’re calling what you’re doing Quality Control is offensive’

Senator, continuing to lead the way on reforming security clearance process, grills officials on failings in Snowden, Alexis cases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who yesterday encouraged the Department of Justice to continue its investigation of the contractor responsible for conducting the background investigations in the Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis cases, today grilled top officials on what went wrong and how the system should be reformed. In the aftermath of those high-profile incidents, McCaskill has introduced a series of bipartisan reforms designed to strengthen the current process.

“The notion that you’re calling what you’re doing quality control is offensive,” McCaskill said to Elaine Kaplan, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management—the federal agency in charge of overseeing background investigations. “If we do a gut check on this issue we’ll realize a lot of the work we’ve been doing on this has just been checking boxes.”

Today’s hearing also included testimony from the Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, and the Government Accountability Office.

“I’d like to see the committee ask for some specific recommendations on who is getting clearances and are they all necessary,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. “What we’re doing now is the worst of all situations—we’re giving the impression that we’ve checked out all these millions of people with clearances—and that’s because this has become a pro-forma process.”

Yesterday, McCaskill, along with Senator Susan Collins of Maine, introduced bipartisan legislation that would implement an automated review of public records and databases for any information that might affect the security clearance status of individuals during the period between when the individuals first receive the clearance and when they are next investigated, a period of between five and fifteen years.  Previously, those who held clearances had no such checks done between investigations and the system relied solely on individuals self-reporting changes, an infrequent practice.

McCaskill has also introduced a bill with Senator Jon Tester of Montana that improves oversight of the security clearance process by empowering the Office of Personnel Management to use resources from its Revolving Fund to audit and investigate contractors that conduct background checks. That bill recently received the unanimous backing of the Senate and has been reported out of committee in the U.S. House, where it now awaits action by the full House.      

McCaskill has also written to Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting that the watchdog examine the security clearance process and report how various federal agencies can streamline and improve clearance investigations.

Click HERE to read highlights of McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.

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