Rule subjects contractors, feds to uniform HSPD-12 scrutiny

The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council today issued an interim rule directing agencies to require contractors to submit to the same background investigations federal employees go through under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

The interim rule is backdated to Oct. 27, 2005, so all solicitations issued and all contracts awarded on or after that date must include new language requiring contractors to adopt the same procedures feds installed Oct. 26.

The General Services Administration expected the FAR Council to release the rule in late October, but it had been delayed. Judy Spencer, chairwoman of the Federal Identity Credentialing Committee (FICC), said last month that this was a "security hole that needs to be plugged."

The interim rule applies to all contractors and subcontractors that have access to federal facilities or federal information systems.

Agencies will have to authenticate the identities, through the National Agency Check or other Office of Personnel Management or National Security investigations, of all current contractors who have not already been cleared. All contractors must be cleared by Oct. 27, 2007, the rule said. Agencies must also complete FBI National Criminal History Checks prior to credential issuance, and modify all acquisition plans to address these new requirements.

Comments are due by March 6 to

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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