For decades, much of the federal government’s security clearance process relied on techniques that emerged in the mid-20th century.
“It’s very manual,” said Evan Lesser, president of ClearanceJobs, posting a website, jobs, news and advice for positions involving security clearances. “Driving in a car to meet people. It’s very old-fashioned and time-consuming. “
A federal initiative that began in 2018 called Reliable Workforce 2.0 Formally introduced semi-automatic analysis of federal employees that occurs in near real time. This program will allow the government to use artificial intelligence to subject employees who are seeking or already have security clearances to “continuous audits and evaluations” – in essence, a continuous evaluation that constantly acquires information, raises red flags and includes self-reporting and human analysis.
“Can we build a system that controls someone and continues to control him and is aware of that person’s disposition as they exist in legal systems and public record systems on an ongoing basis?” said Chris Grijalva, senior technical director at Peraton, a company that focuses on the government side of internal analysis. “And from that idea came the notion of continuous evaluations”.
Such efforts had been used by the government in more ad hoc ways since the 1980s. But the 2018 announcement aimed to modernize government policies, which typically reevaluated employees every five to 10 years. The motivation for adjusting the policy and practice was, in part, the backlog of investigations required and the idea that circumstances and people change.
“That is why it is so compelling to keep people under some sort of constant and ever-changing surveillance process,” said Martha Louise Deutscher, author of the book “Screening the System: Exposing Security Clearance Dangers”. She added that “every day you will run the credit check and every day you will run the criminal check – and the bank accounts, the marital status – and you will make sure that people don’t run into those circumstances where they will make it a risk if they don’t. were yesterday “.
The first phase of the program, a transition period before full implementation, finished in fall 2021. In December, the United States Government Accountability Office advised that the effectiveness of the automation is evaluated (even if not, as we know, continuously).