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Safeguarding our Nation's Secrets: Examining The Security Clearance Process

Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce and the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight

Location: SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

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The purpose of the hearing was to review how the federal government conducts investigations to determine whether federal employees and contractors are eligible for access to classified information.  Since 2005, when the Department of Defense transferred the investigative function of its security clearance investigations to the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Investigative Services Division, a number of reforms have been implemented to decrease the backlog of clearance requests and to improve the timeliness and quality of investigations. 

However, a number of issues persist that compromise these efforts, including insufficient information-sharing or reciprocity between government agencies, limited information technology capabilities, and a lack of appropriate oversight over the process and those conducting investigations. 

The hearing examined the management and oversight of the federal employees and contractors responsible for planning, conducting, and reviewing investigations and issuing security clearances.  It also examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the security clearance process.


  • The Honorable  Patrick E. McFarland
    Inspector General
    U.S. Office of Personnel Managment
    Accompanied by Michelle B. Schmitz, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
    Download Testimony (109.1 KB)
  • Merton W. Miller
    Associate Director of Investigations
    Federal Investigative Services, U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Stephen F. Lewis
    Deputy Director, Security Directorate, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence)
    U.S. Department of Defense
    Accompanied by Stanley L. Sims, Director, Defense Security Service
    Download Testimony (835.9 KB)
  • Brenda S. Farrell
    Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
    U.S. Government Accountability Office
    Download Testimony (197.1 KB)