House works to remove security clearance roadblock

The House of Representatives will consider this evening an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would restart processing on security clearance applications for government contractors, a House Committee on Government Reform spokesman said.

Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.), Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) and Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.) sponsored the amendment in response to a recent decision by the Defense Security Service to stop processing private-sector security clearances.

The amendment would prevent the Defense Department from revoking expiring industry clearances if and when the Pentagon fails to plan adequately for the work volume, said Robert White, communications director of the House Government Reform Committee. The ban would last until the Defense Department can resume processing requests for clearance investigations timely and efficiently, he said.

"Now this, of course, doesn't fix the problem completely, but it's what we can get done in short order," White responded by e-mail.

Davis and various industry groups have been lobbying the Defense Department to resume immediately processing the security clearance applications. The House Government Reform Committee, which Davis chairs, plans to hold a hearing May 17 on why the Defense Department stopped processing contractor security clearances, White said.

The Defense Security Service first issued a notice in April that it would stop processing priority requests for security clearances because of a lack of funding and a high volume of applications. The agency provides security support services to the Defense Department, federal government contractors and other authorized parties.

On May 3, the agency issued a notice that it suspended processing industry requests for new personnel security investigations and periodic re-investigations. The Defense Industrial Clearance Office would hold the requests until the investigations can be funded, the notice said. DSS said it would post updates on its Web site when they became available.

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