Lawmakers want security clearance data moved out of OPM

Lawmakers want security clearance data moved out of OPM
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Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.) are upping their campaign to strip the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) of its control over security clearances after hackers stole nearly 20 million background forms housed at the agency.

The two lawmakers on Wednesday pressed the point in a letter to President Obama's Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council (PAC), which is conducting a 90-day review of the government’s information security policies.

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“We strongly believe that security clearance data — which has been described as ‘crown jewels’ of our national intelligence — should not be protected by OPM, which is neither an intelligence agency nor a defense organization,” they wrote.

Lieu and Russell, who both sit on the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, are also working on legislation that would force the government to move the security clearance database away from the OPM, perhaps back to the Defense Department, where it was housed until 2004.

“OPM was never designed to deal with national security,” Lieu told The Hill shortly after the massive hacks were revealed this summer.

The concept has received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill. Many lawmaker are open to the idea, but unsure where the database should be moved.

In the letter, Lieu and Russell — both former active duty military military officers whose background clearance investigation information was likely taken in the breach — request that PAC make that decision.

“We have drafted, and are prepared to offer, legislative authority to accomplish that goal,” said the pair.