Secrecy News

DNI Assigned to Oversee All Security Clearance Policy

The Director of National Intelligence will oversee security clearance investigations and related policies on access to classified information for all federal agencies, according to an executive order issued yesterday by President Bush.

The move appears to significantly augment the authority of the DNI since it extends his reach to personnel policies and security clearances that are unrelated to intelligence information.

“The Director of National Intelligence … shall direct the oversight of investigations and determinations of eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position made by any agency,” the order stated.

(A “sensitive position,” as defined in a 1953 executive order, is one whose “occupant … could bring about, by virtue of the nature of the position, a material adverse effect on the national security.”)

The DNI was made “responsible for developing uniform and consistent policies and procedures” for security clearance investigations and adjudications government-wide.

The new executive order also reiterates the familiar requirement of security clearance “reciprocity,” i.e. that “background investigations and adjudications shall be mutually and reciprocally accepted by all agencies.”

Illustrating why this requirement has never been satisfactorily implemented, the new order firmly prohibits agencies from imposing their own additional security requirements but then, in the very same sentence, allows exceptions for polygraph testing or, more generally, “to protect national security.”

See “Reforming Processes Related to Suitability for Government Employment, Fitness for Contractor Employees, and Eligibility for Access to Classified National Security Information,” Executive Order 13467, June 30, 2008.