Senators urge House to act on security clearance oversight

The House has a companion measure, H.R. 2860, which Tester said the House might vote on later this month. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee confirmed that the bill would be advanced in the “near future.”

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The Senate approved a provision to allow the inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to use resources from its $2 billion Revolving Fund to investigate the integrity of the background check process, but under current law, the OPM is blocked from using the funds to investigate. The House bill would remedy that.

Tester said an investigation is necessary because of recent events where government contractors have been cleared by background checks when maybe they shouldn’t have been. He cited the example of Edward Snowden, a former government contractor who publicly revealed classified information in June; and Aaron Alexis, a former military officer who shot several people at the Navy Yard in September.

"In the wake of Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, the need for reform is clearer than ever," Tester said. "This provision will bring much needed oversight and transparency to the Revolving Fund. It's bipartisan, it's cost-neutral, and whether you're looking at this from a national security or a fiscal perspective, it makes a lot of sense. The House of Representatives should pass it right away."

The senators are trying to advance other components of the SCORE Act that would allow the OPM to fire investigators and others found to have falsified background investigations and force the government to update its policies determining which positions require a security clearance.

"We still must standardize the security clearance process," Johnson said. "Without governmentwide metrics to request and award a security clearance, the American public cannot be confident that the process is managed effectively."