NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Security Lax At Pentagon

August 16, 1999

The Defense Department has been lax in conducting security background investigations of personnel with access to classified information charges a draft General Accounting Office report.

  • Nine out of every 10 security investigations reviewed by the GAO were found to be incomplete -- which "created risks to national security."
  • In 12 percent of cases, Defense failed to follow leads on potentially serious issues involving criminal histories, alcohol and drug use, and financial problems.
  • Some 120,000 background checks are conducted each year by the Defense Security Service on persons requiring top- secret and secret clearances.
  • The security service currently has a backlog of 600,000 investigations involving persons who have been cleared but are due for updated reviews -- which are particularly vital, GAO says, because most spies are grown within.

In June, the Pentagon removed the service's director, Steven Schanzer, and installed a retired general, Charles Cunningham, after USA Today made inquiries.

The figures in the draft could change by the time the final report is issued in October.

Source: Edward T. Pound, "Report: 92 Percent of Security Probes Lax," USA Today, August 16, 1999.


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