Secrecy News

The DNI as Security Executive Agent

The anti-leak procedures announced last week by the Director of National Intelligence apply specifically to intelligence community employees.  But the DNI is also responsible more broadly for security policies that affect almost everyone who holds a security clearance for access to classified information, whether or not it pertains to intelligence, as well as other government employees who are candidates for “sensitive positions.”

The DNI’s role as “Security Executive Agent” was described in a March 2012 directive, according to which he is responsible for oversight of “investigations and determinations by any agency for eligibility for access to classified information and eligibility to hold a sensitive position.”

The DNI’s authority extends to every individual who has or seeks access to classified information with only a handful of exceptions:  the President, the Vice President, Members of Congress, Justices of the Supreme Court, and Federal judges appointed by the President.

In this capacity, the DNI is responsible for developing standardized procedures for security questionnaires, financial disclosure forms, polygraph policies and practices, and foreign travel and foreign contact reporting requirements.  See “Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 1,” effective 13 March 2012.

“SEAD 1 applies to all departments and agencies performing investigations or adjudications of persons proposed for eligibility to hold a sensitive position whether or not requiring access to classified information,” said Charles B. Sowell of ODNI in congressional testimony last month.   “The ODNI also led the interagency efforts to revise the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines” — which are used to evaluate a person’s loyalty, reliability and trustworthiness — “which we expect to issue later this year,” he said.