Secrecy News

GAO on Security Clearances, NRC on Safeguards Info

Processing of applications for security clearances by the Department of Defense continues to fall far behind official targets for improvement, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“Our independent analysis of timeliness data showed that industry personnel contracted to work for the federal government waited more than one year on average to receive top secret clearances,” a new GAO study said.

Among other things, the latest study provides a useful snapshot of the security clearance apparatus. It reports, for example, that approximately 2.5 million persons hold security clearances authorized by the Department of Defense.

See “DOD Personnel Clearances: Additional OMB Actions Are Needed to Improve the Security Clearance Process” (pdf) [GAO-06-1070], September 2006.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a new rule on protection of “Safeguards Information” (SGI).

“SGI is a special category of sensitive unclassified information to be protected from unauthorized disclosure under Section 147 of the [Atomic Energy Act].”

“Although SGI is considered to be sensitive unclassified information, it is handled and protected more like Classified National Security Information than like other sensitive unclassified information (e.g., privacy and proprietary information).” Access to SGI, for example, requires a validated “need to know.”

The proposed NRC rule, issued for public comment, was published in the Federal Register today.