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October 30. 2013 6:52PM

NH's Sen. Ayotte, others want overhaul of security clearance rules

Sen. Kelly Ayotte has introduced bipartisan legislation that would overhaul the federal government’s security clearance process.

The New Hampshire Republican introduced the bill along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

According to a statement from the four senators, the bill would prompt an automated review of public records and databases for any information that might affect the security clearance status of individuals who have such a clearance.

The bill is in response to security leaks from contractor Edward Snowden and the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard by Aaron Alexis, who received clearance despite previous arrests and documented mental health issues.

“There are serious gaps in the government’s security clearance system, and our bipartisan legislation will help close those gaps by putting in place safeguards to better identify potential risks,” said Ayotte, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“We must ensure that individuals who hold security clearances are qualified, fit to serve, and don’t pose a danger to the workforce or our national security.”

The bill would require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to begin an automated review that would search public records and databases for information on every individual with a security clearance at least twice, at random times, every five years.

“The audits would identify information these individuals are already obligated by law to disclose, including information relating to any criminal or civil legal proceeding; financial information relating to the covered individual; data maintained on any terrorist or criminal watch list; and any publicly-available information that suggests ill intent, vulnerability to blackmail, compulsive behavior, allegiance to another country, or change in ideology of the covered individual,” according to the four senators.

During randomly timed audits required in the bill, if a review finds any information pertinent to security clearance, the OPM would be required to notify the agency employing the individual. That would allow the agency to follow the procedures already in current law to make an informed determination about the individual’s continued employment, level of clearance, and access to classified information.


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