Senate hearing will examine security clearance in wake of NSA leaks

A Senate panel on Thursday will examine federal security-clearance processes, continuing a brief round of hearings this week in response to contractor Edward Snowden leaking information about the nation’s sweeping electronic-surveillance program.

The Senate subcommittee that deals with contracting and federal workforce will raise questions about a perceived lack of oversight, limited IT capabilities and insufficient information sharing between government agencies, according to an announcement from the group.

A report from the national intelligence director showed that about 1 million contractors and more than 3.5 million federal government employees including military personnel hold security clearances. A recent article from Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson explored the issue of whether contractors should do national security work.

The Defense Department handled security clearance processes until 2005, when the Office of Personnel Management’s investigative services division took over the responsibility. Since then, OPM has implemented several changes to decrease clearance-request backlogs and improve the quality of its reviews, according to the subcommittee’s announcement.

The hearing on Thursday will feature testimony from OPM’s inspector general and an associate director of investigations for the agency, as well as from the head of the Defense Department’s defense security service, among other officials.

Senior government officials also testified Tuesday, saying the government’s electronic surveillance program has thwarted more than 50 terrorist plots in the U.S., according to a Washington Post article about the hearing.

(Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the hearing date as Wednesday.)

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comE-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.
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