Clearance: How the SCORE Act and Other Initiatives to Reform the Security Clearance Process May Affect Government Contractors

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In the wake of recent leaks of top secret information and attacks on military installations, Congress and members of the Obama Administration are taking a closer look at the security clearance process. Notably, a bipartisan group of Senators have proposed the SCORE Act, which aims to increase transparency in the security clearance process and revamp applicable policies and guidelines within the government. The Act would also impose significant sanctions on government contractors who perform background investigations, and are found to have engaged in improper conduct during the process. As the effects of the proposed SCORE Act will certainly expand beyond those contractors performing background investigations, the greater contracting community should prepare for potential difficulty in obtaining or renewing contractor personnel security clearances, and the corresponding impact on contractors’ business operations.

What Is the SCORE Act?

The Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enforcement (SCORE) Act, introduced in July 2013 by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), would sanction contractors found to have engaged in improper or fraudulent conduct in performing security clearance background investigations. Among the Act’s proposed provisions, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would be authorized to audit and investigate contractors performing security clearance investigations. The Director of National Intelligence would also issue guidelines that will allow federal departments and agencies to periodically determine whether certain positions require cleared personnel.

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