Amendment moves forward to restart clearance process

Industry cheered the passage of a House amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that provides a starting point for the Defense Department to resume processing industry security clearance applications, but indicated further work needs to be done.

Chris Jahn, president of the Contract Services Association, called the amendment's approval a "significant step" in addressing the problem.

"Work remains to be done to solve the systemic problems with the process, but this action is a good first step," he said in a statement. His organization represents more than 200 companies that provide services to federal, state and local governments.

The Contract Services Association along with the Information Technology Association of America and the Aerospace Industries Association signed a letter supporting the amendment.

The amendment prevents the Defense Department from revoking expiring industry security clearances when it fails to adequately plan for the work volume. The prohibition would be in effect until the department is able to resolve the current crisis and resume processing requests.

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

In April, the service stopped processing priority security clearances because of a lack of funding and the high volume of applications. In early May, the agency suspended processing industry requests for new personnel security investigations and periodic reinvestigations.

The 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, which was passed by the House on May 11, now goes to the Senate for vote.

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