Online security clearance forms on track for June debut

As promised in March, federal workers will be able to file security clearance forms electronically by the end of June, an Office of Personnel official said Wednesday.

The e-clearance project, one of 24 electronic government initiatives supported by the president's management agenda, is running on schedule, according to Norm Enger, project manager for human resources-related electronic government projects at OPM. Electronic filing is one component of the three-part e-clearance project.

Enger could not provide an exact date for when the electronic filing system would be ready, but said it would be done by June 30 at the latest. When the new automated clearance system is in place, federal workers will be able to complete and file SF-86 forms online. Employees use SF-86 forms to apply for government security clearances.

The new SF-86C form, which allows workers to renew security clearances by filling out a two-page form, rather than one 13 pages long, will also be available for electronic filing. Currently, the form is only available in a paper version and can be obtained from agencies' human resource offices.

A second component of e-clearance-technology allowing agencies to form digital images of investigative files-is already finished, Enger said. Several agencies began using the imaging technology in May, he said, and eventually all agencies will change over to the new system for storing files. The new system will save time and space, allowing OPM to process an annual average of roughly 2 million new background investigations more efficiently.

OPM has also made progress on the Clearance Verification System, the third major component of e-clearance, Enger said. The system will allow agencies to access the results of background investigations or view employees' clearance forms by searching in a single database.

Until recently, most civilian agencies tracked employees' clearance histories in separate databases. To date, OPM has transferred 90 percent of background check and clearance files to the new database, according to Enger.

OPM has not been able to provide estimates of how much the e-clearance project will cost, but has said the initiative will save taxpayers $258 million over the next 10 years, as the streamlined security clearance system will process forms in one-tenth of the time that the current process takes.

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