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State Dept IG: Diplomatic Security Bureau Needs to Improve Security Clearance Process

The State Department‘s office of inspector general has called on the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to address issues in its security clearance process.

The OIG said in a report published July that certain factors may slow down the processing of security clearances such as unclear roles and responsibilities; insufficient resources; and an influx of student interns that require clearances.

The Bureau’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability processes initial clearances for new employees as well as requests to transfer clearances from other government agencies, known as reciprocal clearances.

PSS also handles conversions — the security clearance process for personnel who are moving to another position within the State Department.

Auditors found that PSS does not provide exact processing times for initial and reciprocal security clearances in its reports to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which prevented the OIG from determining the timeliness of the security clearance process.

PSS reports blanket estimates instead of actual times to ODNI and maintains databases with contradicting timeliness data, the OIG report said.

Exact processing times for conversions are also unknown because PSS does not keep any data on such efforts, the report revealed.

The OIG urged the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to address the accuracy of reported timeliness data; outline clear roles and responsibilities for its clearance workforce; conduct a workforce analysis; and estimate costs associated with the clearance process.

The report also recommended the bureau to try to retrieve funds spent on investigative services for other
agencies and better identify the type of clearance that student interns might need.

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