Too many security clearances? White House panel runs the numbers

The federal government should cut the number of federal employees and contractors with access to top-secret and sensitive information, the Obama administration has concluded.

The finding is among more than a dozen recommendations put forward Tuesday by an interagency panel formed in response to last fall’s deadly mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

Led by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the review was made public along with a Pentagon report concluding that killing spree, which left 12 people dead, could have been prevented.

The White House probe found that some 5.1 million federal workers and contractors were eligible for security clearances, giving them access to an array of sensitive locations and information, as of October 2013.

“Growth in the number of clearance-holders increases costs and exposes classified national security information, often at very sensitive levels, to an increasingly large population,” according to a 29-page report issued by the panel.

The report calls for new regulations “to refine the designation of national security positions and more accurately align investigations with risks,” according to the report.

The panel is also pushing measures to give investigators expanded access to state and public criminal records, as they look into the backgrounds of workers up for clearances, as well as continuous evaluation of those deemed eligible.

Other recommendations include improved oversight of the clearance process and clarified reporting guidelines for employees.

“For example, even with reporting requirements in place, no reports were made of Aaron Alexis’ multiple arrests or other personal conduct issues, either by the Navy or those in his company who were aware of his conduct,” the report found, referring to the Navy Yard shooter.