Security Cleared Professionals Brace for Fallout, Delays in Clearance Process
The defense community is united in the case of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor now facing U.S. espionage charges. According to a new survey conducted by ClearanceJobs.com, the leading online career network for professionals with an active federal security clearance, 75 percent of security cleared professionals believe Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have been harmful to national security.
The security cleared community is much more unified than the nation at large. When asked if they agree with Snowden’s position that the American people have a right to know about the government’s surveillance tactics, 70 percent of security cleared professionals said no, they do not agree with Snowden’s claims that his disclosures were an act of conscience. On the issue of asylum, if the decision was theirs, 83 percent of security cleared professionals would not offer Mr. Snowden protection.
The majority (55%) of the respondents, most of whom identified themselves as government contractors, said they believe the U.S. government has become too relaxed when it comes to granting access to sensitive data, while 28 percent disagree with that statement.
The response was mixed on the question of whether the security clearance investigation and adjudication process is a flawed one. Forty-four percent said “no,” another 26 percent said “yes” and 30 percent were unsure.
When those who believe the process is flawed were asked why, the top responses were:
— The security clearance questionnaire needs to ask questions to better reflect modern concerns;
— Workloads are too heavy for a limited number of investigators; and
— The steps the government has taken to speed up the process have created lax reviews.
According to additional ClearanceJobs research, nearly half of cleared professionals obtained final clearances within three months in 2012. The government has shaved nearly two months off that number since 2010, when five months was more likely for the majority of professionals seeking clearances.
“It’s important to remember the government focused on speeding up the clearance process in part to stop losing qualified applicants that withdraw due to wait times,” said Evan Lesser, Managing Director of ClearanceJobs.com. “At a time when the government is hurting for qualified cybersecurity professionals, the clearance process is critical. Our cyber talent is mainly in private industry and bringing that talent into government positions is difficult at best.”
Still, nearly two-thirds (64%) of security cleared professionals believe the Snowden case will cause a slowdown in the security clearance process. When asked if the security cleared process could be improved if the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) discontinued the use of contract investigators, 65 percent of respondents said they did not believe this was a solution.
Similarly, nearly two-thirds (63%) also believe the repercussions from the Snowden case will drive the government to “insource” more highly-sensitive work, although 23 percent disagree. The one place the majority of security cleared professionals don’t expect fallout is in their compensation.
About the Survey
From July 15, 2013 to August 2, 2013, security cleared professionals shared their views on the Edward Snowden case and the broader potential consequences to the clearance process. Nearly 300 professionals with active federal security clearance responded, with a plurality (40%) holding a Department of Defense Secret clearance and the majority (61%) identified themselves as senior level career professionals with 10 or more years’ work experience.
ClearanceJobs.com, a Dice Holdings, Inc. service, is the leading Internet-based career network dedicated to matching security-cleared professionals with the best hiring companies searching for new employees. Authorized U.S. government contractors, federal agencies, national laboratories and universities utilize The Cleared NetworkTM to quickly and easily find candidates with specific, active security clearance requirements to fill open jobs in a range of disciplines. For more information, please visit www.ClearanceJobs.com.