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The interim security clearance.

The Interim Security Clearance Most large programs experience a combination of change and consistency over the years. This has certainly been the case with the Defense Industrial Security Program (DISP). An excellent example of this phenomenon within DISP is the interim personnel security clearance.

Beginning in January 1989, the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) began granting interim secret and interim confidential personnel security clearances to all eligible applicants. This procedure is an important change from past policy that required each application for an interim secret or interim confidential clearance be accompanied by a letter of justification from the government agency whose classified contract was involved or from the facility security officer (FSO). The policy pertaining to interim top secret clearances remains the same--each request must be accompanied by a letter of justification validated by the contracting officer.

The seed for changing the procedures for processing interim secret and interim confidential clearances was planted in November 1985 when the Stilwell Commission completed its report Keeping the Nation's Secrets: A Report to the Secretary of Defense by the Commission to Review DoD Security Policies and Practices.

According to the report, it takes 60 days to complete the security clearance processing for a secret clearance--a delay that costs the DoD a considerable amount of money in terms of lost production. The report also noted that a relatively small number of cases with favorable personnel security questionnaires (PSQs) uncovered major derogatory information during the course of investigation. Thus, the commission concluded DoD would incur small risks in providing personnel interim access to information classified at the secret and lower level, provided the applicant's PSQs did not reflect major derogatory information.

As a result of this recommendation, the Industrial Security Manual eliminated the requirement for contractors to pursue interim clearance action below the top secret level since all applications for secret and confidential clearances would be automatically considered for an interim clearance.

Budgetary constraints on the Defense Investigative Service made it impossible to allocate the necessary resources immediately to DISCO. However, in November 1986, DISCO began to process applications for interim secret and interim confidential clearances without requiring a letter of justification from the contracting officer in instances where the FSO specifically stated on the PSQ that an interim clearance was needed.

In October 1988, DISCO was allocated the additional resources needed to fully implement processing of interim clearances. Procedures for implementing this new policy were then established in the following three phases:

Phase I. All initial applications for top secret, secret, and confidential clearances are considered for an interim secret or interim confidential clearance provided the PSQs reflect only favorable information and the Defense Central Index of Investigations (DCII) referenced no record of a prior investigation.

Phase II. Applications are considered for an interim secret or interim confidential clearance provided the PSQs reflect only favorable information, and, in instances where a record of prior investigation was referenced in the DCII, a review of the information is conducted to determine if an interim clearance could be granted.

Phase III. All applications are considered for an interim secret or interim confidential clearance even though the PSQs reflect some derogatory information and the DCII referenced a prior file.

In January 1989, DISCO began full implementation of the general interim clearance program as originally recommended by the Stilwell Commission and subsequently approved for implementation by the secretary of defense.

Prior to November 1986, DISCO granted approximately 1,000 interim secret and interim confidential clearances per month. With the new general interim clearance program, DISCO anticipates granting approximately 7,000 interim clearances per month.

DISCO has very strict guidelines regarding the issuance of interim clearances. For example, it will deny clearance to those whose applications reflect derogatory information serious enough to warrant an expanded personnel security investigation. The contractor will be notified in writing when an interim clearance is denied. Those applicants will likely receive a final clearance following the completion of their personnel security investigation.

In a small percentage of cases, serious derogatory information may be developed subsequent to the issuance of interim clearances. In these cases, interim clearances will be withdrawn by DISCO; however, processing the final clearance applications will continue. Withdrawal of interim clearance is not a denial or revocation of a clearance. A denial of an interim clearance cannot be appealed.

The new general interim clearance program will provide both rewards and challenges to the industrial security community. Monetary savings to contractors will be passed on to the DoD, and the ability to complete classified contracts in a more timely fashion will have a beneficial impact on procurements relating to national security. Certain risks will be encountered in the new program, but these risks will be minimized through the continued diligence of the Defense Investigative Service and DISP contractors.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Schwalls, Robert G.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1989
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