Trusting America: A Reformation of Granting Security Clearances
The United States government is currently undergoing a budget reduction; inversely, emphasis is placed now more than ever on the importance of national security. America's current process for granting security clearances and conducting background investigations presents an aspect of national security that can be improved, while reducing the pressure on budget restrictions. This paper examines the inefficiencies of the current security clearance process and offers new solutions that would reduce government spending in this arena while increasing the functionality and efficiency of conducting background investigations.A brief background of security clearances provides the backdrop for comparing a historical perspective with today's process. Putting the process of security clearances in context by expanding on its relationship with terrorism and additional cyber threats of today demonstrates numerous inefficiencies present in the slowly evolving process. A breakdown of the structure of security clearances and comparison between federal, state, and local procedures confirms how diverse the systems coexist and emphasizes the lack of efficiency involved with the manpower to produce and document the paperwork.The case studies of three insider threats demonstrate evolving vulnerabilities in our current background process and the demand for more stringent measures during the initial and continuing clearance investigations. A brief overview of additional controversial issues incorporates other factors taken into account more so now than ever: mental health, sexual orientation, duration and budget, and oversight and transparency of the clearance process. A review of legal and ethical implications complicating the reform of the clearance process is introduced to the equation. Evidence suggests that the current system for conducting background investigations for granting security clearances entails a gross waste of time and money.Finally, after the analysis of the above, reformation of the current security clearance process is recommended. As a result of the findings in this thesis, the US government should implement a reduced budget, reduced duration, consolidate databases, enforce mandatory reciprocation between agencies of the background investigation process and introduce a mandatory open background investigation for elected and appointed officials.
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