Portman-Tester Provisions to Reform Security Clearance Process Signed into Law by President

Portman-Tester Provisions to Reform Security Clearance Process Signed into Law by President

Washington, D.C. – Today, provisions from the bipartisan Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce Subcommittee, were signed into law by the President.  The provisions would increase oversight over how the government conducts background investigations by providing authority to the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to use amounts in OPM's Revolving Fund to audit, investigate, and provide oversight for the activities of that fund.

“The cases of Edward Snowden and the tragic events that transpired at the Navy Yard underscore the importance of fixing the faults in our system,” said Portman.  “While we have a ways to go to make sure this system is working as it should, at a minimum we need to ensure that agency watchdogs have the authority and resources they need to conduct oversight and investigate wrongdoing.”

The SCORE Act, which passed the Senate in October 2013, was a product of a HSGAC hearing that revealed that the contractor who conducted Snowden’s background check was under investigation and has subsequently been accused of defrauding the government.

The SCORE Act passed the Senate in October 2013, and today the President signed into law the House version of the bill, H.R. 2860, the OPM IG Act.

Portman also ensured the incorporation of his amendment regarding the security clearance process in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law in December 2013.  The language, co-sponsored by Tester, requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the security clearance process and report how various federal agencies can streamline and improve clearance investigations.  It also requires an examination of background investigation processes for collecting law enforcement records – a key shortcoming identified in the investigation into the case of Aaron Alexis, the alleged perpetrator of the mass killing of twelve people at the Navy Yard complex in Washington, D.C. on September 16, 2013.

In September 2013, Portman and Tester teamed up to send a letter to OPM calling for a thorough review of the security clearance background investigation(s) conducted on Mr. Alexis.  Read a signed copy of the letter here.