Many personnel with top clearance may be affected by the change.
“Funding shortfalls” are forcing the Defense Department to suspend most periodic reinvestigations of contractors cleared for top-secret status in some national security jobs starting Friday through the remainder of fiscal 2013, according to a recent announcement.
The Defense Security Service, the agency that manages the reinvestigations, said the cuts would affect “most top secret periodic reinvestigations” but would exempt reinvestigations for contractors recognized as “key management personnel” and those needed for priority programs.
“Requests for initial personnel security clearances and Secret PRs are not affected by the suspension,” the agency said.
The agency also noted that the reinvestigations of industry personnel with access to “mission essential” intelligence would also be exempted. For example, the cuts will not affect people in positions similar to that held by recent National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, a top-secret cleared employee with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
The move was designed to push the costs of the reinvestigations—which can be thousands of dollars each—to the next fiscal year, according to the Federal Times.
Top Secret level individuals must be reinvestigated every 5 years, and Secret level personnel every 10 years, according to DSS. Spokeswoman Cindy McGovern told Government Executive that the agency has oversight of investigations for contract personnel in the National Industrial Security Program, which includes contract employees at the Energy and Defense departments and the CIA.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, more than 1.7 million Americans have or are eligible for a Top Secret clearance.