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Rubio: Biden’s Outdated Security Clearance Systems Threaten National Security

Jul 10, 2024 | Press Releases

U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered opening remarks and questioned Office of the Director of National Intelligence Principal Deputy Director Stacey Dixon and Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency Director David Cattler during a hearing on personnel vetting, security clearance reform, and Trusted Workforce 2.0.

Click here for a video of Rubio’s line of questioning. 

Click here for a video of Rubio’s opening remarks, and read the transcript below.

RUBIO: Last year, we held a hearing on this topic, and I stated at that time that the clearance process and the ongoing reforms [to it] are at the fundamental core of protecting our security and our nation’s most sensitive assets, capabilities, and information. It’s the job of this committee to ensure that our intelligence is secure. At least, that’s our job from a congressional oversight perspective, so it’s with serious concern that we’re back here a year later in what I believe is a position worse than we were a year ago. I’m hoping that I hear from testimony today that that’s not the case. 

We had the 2014 Chinese hack into the Office of Personnel Management. The next-generation security clearance IT system, the National Background Investigation Service, was expected to be online by 2019. It’s now 2024, and we don’t have full NBIS utilization. [There has also been] no termination of expensive and old legacy security clearance systems, [on which we] already [spend] more than $1 billion per year. I recognize these IT systems require upgrades. But in this case, with all these expensive security clearance legacy systems still online, we have no timeline for full utilization being finalized and an opt-in or opt-out confusing option for any federal department or agency. I want to be persuaded why this isn’t waste and redundancy and a serious lack of ownership and accountability…. 

Our responsibility as a committee is to make sure that our nation’s most sensitive secrets are being protected…. We’ve got to be able to protect our secrets and make sure the people that we’re bringing in are properly vetted. But we also have to be able to bring in the best people we possibly can into the workforce. It’s essential that a timely and secure means of recruiting, onboarding, and retaining cleared personnel exists. I’m hoping that I can hear something today that makes me feel better about everything I’ve just said, because when I compare where we are today to where we were a year ago, I think it’s gotten worse, not better.