Security Clearance Reform: The Performance Accountability Council’s Path Forward

Full Committee on Oversight and Reform
Full Committee on Oversight and Reform
Hearing Date: February 25, 2016 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building



  • Department of Defense (DOD) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials cannot give a timeline for incorporating social media monitoring into the security clearance process.
  • Under the new security clearance reform plan, DOD is tasked with securing IT systems related to background investigation process. Such a split creates uncertainty around whether OMB or DOD is ultimately accountable for the new system.
  • It is unclear how DOD and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will secure IT systems during the transition.
  • Access to state and local criminal records must continue to be improved in the security clearance process to prevent another incident like the Navy Yard shooting.


  • To review the Obama administration’s proposal to create a new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) within the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
  • To learn more about major changes to the background investigations system affecting millions of federal workers and contractors in the private sector.


  • On January 22, 2016, the federal government announced several changes to the system for conducting background investigations, both for security clearances and routine security checks.
    • Federal Investigative Services, the entity within OPM that is currently responsible for conducting background investigations, will be absorbed into the new NBIB, which will also be housed within OPM.
  • The Department of Defense will assume responsibility for the design, development, security, and operation of information technology systems for the NBIB.
  • These changes follow a 90-day review by the Suitability and Security Performance Accountability Council, headed by the Office of Management and Budget and comprised of the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of OPM.


Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): “As we’re doing a background investigation, how could you not go look at their Facebook page, or their Twitter posts, or their Instagram, or Snapchat, or any of the other ones? … Go hire a bunch of teenagers and they’d do it better than we’re doing it. … ISIS has figured it out — they know how to do it. But we don’t seem to do it.”

Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK): “If the Department of Defense is going to clearly have the greatest level of responsibility to protect these documents then they, by golly, better have the authority to make it good and we ought not to be weakening and diminishing our land forces to pay for some data breach.”

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA): “The Navy Yard shooter had multiple previous arrests and yet was still somehow able to obtain clearance. … The local law enforcement — when is that relationship [with other law enforcement] going to be resolved so that information can be readily made available so that we don’t have people like the Navy Yard shooter gain access?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Ms. Beth Cobert Acting Director U.S. Office of Personnel Management Document
Mr. Terry Halvorsen Chief Information Officer U.S. Department of Defense Document
Mr. Tony Scott Deputy Director for Management U.S. Office of Management and Budget Document
Mr. William Evanina Director of National Counterintelligence and Security Center Office of the Director of National Intelligence Document

Related Documents

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