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Federal background clearances flawed | Politics

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Federal background clearances flawed

CAPITOL HILL, DC (WUSA9) -- The people in charge of bestowing security clearances for our federal workforce were in the hot seat during a senate hearing weeks after the Navy Yard shooting that took the lives of 12 people and the shooter.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs want to get to the bottom of the failures of background check and clearances that allowed Aaron Alexis to maintain his access to Navy facilities and to prevent any further breaches in security and loss of life in the future. 

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the chief oversight committee of homegrown terrorism.

Sen. Tom Coburn said, "For $20 you can get 90% of the information. Now we pay 2400 bucks for a top secret clearance, is that right? It's a little more than that, it's $4000."

Senator Tom Coburn makes the point that the U.S. Is forking over so much money for a system that's flawed.

The senate committee says they have to do more than check boxes and forms.  They need to broaden their scope to some of the obvious at anyone's fingertips.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, (R) - New Hampshire said, "When our teenagers get important information on social media, yet we're not going to use it? We need to take a common sense approach to this."


The senate committee says it has to go beyond just getting into the federal government but that random checks need to be re-instated.

Sen. Coburn (R)-OK said, "We need to create an environment where we lessen the number of people who need clearances and create random checks to see if they deserve to keep that clearance. Are you all amazed that 8400 people in this country have a tax debt that makes them vulnerable to divulging secret data or top secret date and they've got clearances today?"  

Lawmakers say if they are missing basic tax problems what else is slipping through the cracks?

Aaron Alexis had a criminal record and was mentally unstable.

Elaine Kaplan, OPM Acting Director said, "Yes, we all missed something, but we did what was required."

The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget are going through a 120 day review. Already it's revealed failures but the agencies are committed to correcting them.  

Joseph Jordan, Office of Management and Budget said, "Getting this right is personal and we are going to do everything we can so this doesn't happen again." 

OPM and OMB are looking at reducing the number of security clearances, and strengthening its background checks to include requiring police reports and mental health evaluations.


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