In Part 4 of the special report, Questioning Clearances, Federal News Radio examines the government’s plan to use new technology to keep better tabs on cleared personnel on a near, real-time basis. But some experts wonder whether such a plan could be implemented successfully in the swift timelines sought by the government.
It’s hard to tell how many agencies are actually checking all the boxes on the Obama administration’s plan for detecting disgruntled or rogue employees. Agencies were supposed to have taken initial steps to set up insider threat programs by June 30, according to an update posted on Performance.gov. But it’s impossible to know the number of agencies who met the initial criteria so far. The progress update says that information is classified.
From Google searches to LinkedIn connections, a wealth of publicly available online information can reveal a person’s mindset, and possibly tip off the government to the next Edward Snowden or Aaron Alexis. The intelligence community has done some testing, but a final policy remains elusive. Contractors are hesitant.
Michael Vickers, the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, said cybersecurity and terrorism are his top two short- and long-term concerns. He said protecting space-based systems is becoming more important than ever. Vickers also wants to continue to transform the military intelligence community to meet ever-changing threats.
The law enforcement response to what turned out to have been a false alarm at the Washington Navy Yard last week was quite different than the actual active shooter situation in 2013.
The investigations process is to blame for higher security clearance processing times at the beginning of 2016 and end of 2015. Challenges with culture, resources and legal questions are also pushing agencies farther and farther off schedule in standing up their own insider threat programs.
Current and former intelligence community officials say they’re not getting the buy-in they need from their top leadership — or the guidance they need to use begin using social media — in their insider threat and security clearance programs.
The Coast Guard said it’s the first Executive Branch agency to achieve full operating capability on its insider threat program. The Homeland Security Department said it’s working to automate its continuous evaluation program, in support of a governmentwide goal to add 5 percent of the cleared population under CE by 2017.
Jonathan McDonald, executive vice president of TransUnion, says agencies need to look to multiple sources to understand potential risks posed by employees.
Daniel Payne, the director of the Defense Security Services, said the continuous evaluation program will have 1 million employees by 2018.