Continuous security vetting now the norm for all DOD personnel

About 3.6 million people — service members, civilian personnel, and contractors — with current security clearances have now been enrolled in the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency’s current continuous vetting program.

Continuous vetting will eventually replace periodic reinvestigations, which are conducted every 10 years for employees with a secret clearance and five years for those with a top-secret clearance. It will also include DOD personnel who do not have a clearance, according to Heather Green, assistant director of vetting risk operations for DCSA.

Airmen assigned to the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group sit at computers beta testing the CYDE CARS aptitude test at Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport, Middle River, Md., August 7, 2021. The 175th COG Airmen were the first members of the Department of Defense to test this software that will be used across the National Guard. (courtesy photo)

This brings the agency and the federal government one step closer to its trusted workforce, or TW 2.0, goal of providing continuous vetting for all of DOD, as well as other government personnel outside of the department, she said. TW 2.0 is expected to be incrementally implemented over the next few years.

Continuous vetting is now in the TW 1.25 stage, which means that DCSA receives automated records from government and commercial data sources based on federal investigative standards. The National Background Investigation Services, a component of DCSA, then leverages an automated system that scans the data for any alerts that might indicate potential issues or other suspicious or criminal activity, she said.

“We developed that in order to provide that initial version of continuous vetting, focusing on high-value data sources through automated record checks. Those continuous record checks that are turned on right now mean that issues of potential risk to an individual’s trustworthiness that may have taken years to discover in the past are now identified and addressed in very near real-time data,” Green said.

One example of TW 1.25’s success: The DCSA team received an alert on July 31 that there was a fugitive arrest warrant for attempted murder, felony assault and other charges related to an incident that had occurred the previous day, Green said.

The team immediately validated the alert and then shared that information with the subject’s security manager and law enforcement. That individual was apprehended and removed from security access, she said.

“If we had not had this individual enrolled in continuous vetting, there’s a high potential that we may not have been aware of the situation until the next periodic investigation, which would have been 5 1/2 years later,” she said.

Although continuous vetting is now operational, Green said she would encourage anyone who is having any issues, such as with finances, to proactively report it to their security manager. “Self-reporting is a critical piece of continuous vetting and we prefer to have already known about the incident prior to an alert being generated in the system,” she said.

Green also said the person who shares concerns with his or her security manager, would most likely receive some sort of assistance so the problem does not fester and become a potential insider threat concern.

Sailors participate in a suicide prevention 5k run on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Sept. 28, 2021. Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability through alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Megan Alexander)
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