WASHINGTON – Six months after a disturbed federal contractor shot 12 fellow workers to death at the Washington Navy Yard, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Tuesday detailed steps the Department of Defense is taking based on reviews of security standards in place at the time.
Hagel joined Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at a Pentagon news conference to discuss actions recommended by DoD reviews, including an internal review led by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and an external review led by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton and retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson, and Navy reviews of its security standards.
“The reviews identified troubling gaps in DoD’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to instances where someone working for us — a government employee, a member of our military or a contractor — decides to inflict harm on this institution and its people,” Hagel said.
To close these gaps, he added, DoD will take four actions recommended by the reviewers:
— DoD will implement a continuous evaluation program of personnel with access to DoD facilities or classified information, including DoD contractors and military and Civilian personnel. “While individuals with security clearances undergo periodic reinvestigations,” the secretary said, “I am directing the department to establish automated reviews of cleared personnel that will continuously pull information from law enforcement and other relevant databases.” Hagel said this will help trigger an alert if derogatory information such as an arrest becomes available for someone holding a security clearance.
— DoD will establish an Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center that quickly analyzes the results of the automated record checks, helps connect the dots, and determines whether follow-up action is needed. The center also will advise and support Department of Defense components to ensure appropriate action is taken on each case, Hagel noted.
— DoD will centralize authority and accountability for physical and personal security under a single staff assistant located in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. Tuesday, the secretary said, these responsibilities are fractured among multiple DoD components. “This action will identify one person within DoD who is responsible for leading efforts to counter insider threats,” he said.
— DoD will accelerate development of the Defense Manpower Data Center’s Identity Management Enterprise Services Architecture, called IMESA, allowing DoD security officers to share access control information and continuously vet individuals against U.S. government databases.
Along with these actions, Hagel said, the department will review how best to move forward on three more recommendations made by the Independent Review Panel:
— Consider reducing the number of personnel holding Secret security clearances by at least 10 percent, a recommendation in line with October 2013 guidance from the director of national intelligence.
— Consider reducing DoD’s reliance on background investigations conducted by the Office of Personnel Management and analyze the cost, efficiency and effectiveness of returning the clearance review process to DoD.
— Consider developing more effective ways to screen recruits, further destigmatize treatment and ensure the quality of mental health care within DoD.
Hagel said he has directed Vickers to develop an implementation plan based on the recommendations and report back on progress in June.
“Everything the Department of Defense is doing [supports] the broader, government-wide review of the oversight of security and suitability standards of federal employees and contractors,” Hagel said. “That review was approved by President [Barack] Obama earlier this month.”
That review was led by the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council in coordination with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management, he added.
“I think we all understand that open and free societies are always vulnerable, but together we’re going to do everything possible to provide our people as safe and secure a workplace as possible,” the secretary said, adding, “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the victims and their Families of that terrible day. We will continue to do everything we can to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. We owe them nothing less.”
Mabus said it is with the memory of the three women and nine men who lost their lives at the Washington Navy Yard that the Navy releases the results of its investigation into the shooting.
“In all this, our first concern has been for those lost and those wounded and their Families,” the Navy secretary said. “Over the past few days, Navy liaisons who have been with the Families all along reached out individually to provide them with this information.”
The Navy already has improved physical security and force protection based on rapid reviews and assessments of bases and policies after the attack, Navy units have completed self-assessments to ensure their own compliance, and departmental leadership has engaged with commanding officers worldwide to stress their role in protecting civilian and military personnel, he said.
“Where we identified issues with the security clearance processes that involve changes to broader governmental policy, we forwarded those recommendations through DoD to the appropriate agency and department,” Mabus said.
The Navy has worked closely with the reviews set up in DoD and with the broader government-wide review, he added, “and we will implement as quickly as possible the recommendations laid out by Secretary Hagel, including the continuous evaluation program for security clearances.”
Mabus thanked Hagel for his unwavering support for the Navy and the entire Navy Family and for ensuring that DoD’s internal and external reviews built on the Navy’s efforts.
The Navy secretary appointed Adm. John Richardson, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, to conduct an official investigation in accordance with the Judge Advocate General Manual, called the JAGMAN report, into the circumstances surrounding the Navy yard shooting.
Mabus said he has accepted the probe’s 11 major findings and 14 recommendations, and they are in the process of being implemented.
“I also directed that additional actions be taken to strengthen the Department of the Navy’s contractor requirements and to provide greater oversight on how a sailor or Marine’s performance is evaluated and reported,” Mabus said, and he thanked Richardson and his staff for their work.
Looking back to the Sept. 16, 2013, incident, the Navy secretary also thanked the first responders, the Navy and federal law enforcement agencies and agents, the Navy Yard employees and their Families, as well as the local community and supporters across the nation.
“As Secretary Hagel said, we cannot completely eliminate the threat, but we can and will guard against these kinds of events by addressing these findings, even if doing so would not have prevented this attack, because it may prevent a future one,” Mabus said.
“That is one objective of these reviews and investigations,” he added. “A parallel and equally powerful reason is to provide answers to our Navy Family. It is for them that we conducted a clear-eyed and thorough look at how their loved ones, colleagues [and] friends came to face such terrible danger that day. It is for them that, going forward, we will do everything within our power to safeguard their security.”