Defense softens worker stance

The Defense Department has rethought plans to disqualify foreign nationals from jobs that include handling unclassified but sensitive information technology.

If would-be workers pass background investigations and get letters of approval from the agency chiefs seeking to employ them, the department will allow the hires to proceed, senior defense managers said.

Defense agencies are encouraged to hire U.S. citizens first for sensitive IT positions, said Pete Nelson, defense deputy director for personnel security. Foreign nationals can still work on systems within the Defense Department, provided they are properly vetted for the material to which they have access, he said.

When the Pentagon issued its no-foreigners proposal in March, some industry officials expressed concern that the rule would call for foreign employees to be removed from positions in which they would handle sensitive but unclassified information. Such data includes personnel data and information on weapons systems.

It is still unclear how many contractors would be affected by the proposal. The Defense Department expects to issue a final policy by September.

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