Intelligence chief pushes security clearance reform

The new director of national intelligence said Wednesday that by adopting a commercial sector model, the government could save time and money issuing security clearances.

In his first speech since being sworn into the highest position in the U.S. intelligence community, Mike McConnell said American financial institutions are able to process the equivalent of a Top Secret clearance within two weeks. He said if the government follows their example, it would be able to bring in new employees at a faster rate, and the process would cost less.

McConnell said financial institutions are successful in reducing instances of dishonesty to nearly zero. He also said that once government employees have received clearances, it would be important to have "some sort of audit capability."

"My challenge to the community is to challenge the very foundation of why do we do it this way," McConnell said. "We're starting on that path … we're in the early stages, and changing the standards is a challenge."

He spoke at the Excellence in Government conference in Washington, an event sponsored by Government Executive.

The intelligence chief said he wanted to start a debate on reforming the laws and regulations that govern the intelligence community.

He said Americans are supportive of intelligence gathering during crisis situations, but not on a continuous basis.

"Our history has been that we build it for crisis, sustain it for war and then take it down," McConnell said. "The only time we sustained intelligence was coming out of World War II."

The laws established during the Cold War served well then, but they are not suited to fighting the war on terrorism, he said.

McConnell added that from the end of the Cold War to 2000, the U.S. intelligence and defense budgets have declined by 40 percent. One of the key areas that atrophied in the 1990s was the intelligence community's ability to purchase large-scale systems, due to the lack of program managers and engineers.

Last month, McConnell announced the creation of the position of deputy director for acquisition within his office. He said at the time that an increased emphasis on acquisition is necessary to rebuild the intelligence community.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.