WASHINGTON – Representatives of firms that process security clearance applications told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Wednesday that long waits caused by extensive backlogs make it harder to recruit qualified personnel.
“The backlog of 700,000 security clearance cases is our industry’s number one priority,” said ManTech President and CEO Kevin Phillips. “Given the increase in challenges that we face in providing qualified career talent to meet the mission demands, we consider it a national security issue.”
Raytheon Vice President of Global Intelligence Solutions Jane Chappell said the backlogs result in “top talent lost in non-defense industries.” She explained that in turn: “programs that provide critical war-fighter capabilities suffer delay and cost increases.”
The hearing comes two weeks after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had his clearance downgraded from “top secret” to “secret.”
Kushner, a real estate executive and close confidant of the president, previously served as a Middle East peace envoy with an interim clearance. Interim clearances are generally given to people who have not yet completed the full review process. The White House has not explained when Kushner received the top secret clearance.
Kushner’s clearance downgrade reportedly came about as result of a personnel review undertaken at the request of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked the panel how often their firms had dealt with interim TSSCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearances.
The panelists said such situations were rare.