Defense Security Service Grilled on Interim Clearance Process

Last October the Defense Security Service (DSS) provided their response to a request for information from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on how many interim clearances were granted to individuals convicted of criminal conduct and what DSS was doing to improve the process. Some of the numbers put forth in the response were:

  • 200,000 interim clearance decisions were made in the last three years
  • In 2017 DOHA denied the final clearance for 486 contractors (165 of whom had been granted an interim clearance between 2014-16)
  • DSS withdrew 143 interim clearances based on information gleaned during the course of the background investigation (usually falsification/subsequent adverse information)
  • In 2017 DSS temporarily suspended 114 clearances that were pending due process (including one case involving allegiance to the U.S)

This is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenarios where hindsight is 50-50. On the one hand you have pressure from companies and agencies to get people cleared and working as quickly as possible by granting “interim” access. Then on the other side we have political considerations and public perception to deal with when a very small percentage of applicants who lie and provide misleading information slip through the cracks. Your thoughts?

The numbers don’t tell the entire story, for example, of those 200,000 interim clearance decisions, how many decided to grant an interim? But we do get some sense of the scope in that of those 200K decisions, only about 300 interims were later rescinded. Some were rescinded by DOHA which tells me that the final decision was made after the investigation and adjudication completed, while others were rescinded by DSS, presumably while the invetigation was still underway.

So 300 out of 200K is a little less than 0.1%. I think that’s a pretty good number.