Today in Security - U.S. House oversight panel investigating security clearances

Today in Security: U.S. House Oversight Panel Investigating Security Clearances

​​​The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform voted Tuesday to issue a subpoena to the former head of the personnel security division at the White House after a whistleblower accused him of putting national security in jeopardy by mismanaging security clearances, the New York Times reports today.

The whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, a manager in the White House's Personnel Security Office, told the committee in a private interview last month that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career employees for disqualifying issues, including drug use and criminal conduct, the committee's Democratic staff said in a memo released this week.

Newbold said the top personnel security official, Carl Kline, reversed a decision to deny a clearance for a senior White House official after a background check turned up multiple concerns, including possible foreign influence. She also said Kline granted a security clearance to a second White House official despite concerns voiced by a specialist.

When Newbold repeatedly pointed out his actions, she said he discriminated against her over her short stature, which is caused by a form of dwarfism. She filed a complaint against him with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the Times report. In a statement, Kline's lawyer, Robert Driscoll, said the "facts will prove that he acted appropriately at all times."

Federal security clearances have been a troublesome issue for the Trump administration for the last few years. In June 2018, Security Management wrote about a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which found that executive branch agencies were unable to investigate and process personnel security clearances in a timely manner.  The GAO report found that, as of late 2017, there was a backlog of more than 700,000 cases.

Three months ago, clearancejobs.com reported that the Office of the Director Of National Intelligence has a plan to reduce the backlog by 300,000 cases in six months, but it remained unclear how the office would accomplish the reduction.