Commentary Magazine


Playing Skittles with Security

The United States is currently involved in three wars—on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in and around the Libyan theater. President Obama has talked about a civilian surge, but alas, his administration has had trouble filling the slots. Here’s one reason: Shortly before I began blogging for Commentary, I wrote a short blog post for the Corner at National Review Online in which I looked at the tremendous inefficiency at the Defense Security Service (DISCO).

While the Office of Personnel Management reports that the average time of security clearances declined from 153 days in 2007 to 47 days in 2010, this is creative accounting. One of the cases I have followed involves a secret clearance. The investigation was straight forward and involved no surprises. Yet it has taken more than nine months after the conclusion of the investigation for an adjudicator to look at the file.

It’s not an issue of borderline security (no criminal history, no financial problems, etc.), but rather one of lazy supervisors. Rather than take 47 days, DISCO is sitting on cases for over a year. In effect they are lying to Congress by massaging their reporting statistics to focus not on their complete job, but one phase. One security professional explained that the DISCO facility involved is moving states, and its employees are conducting a bloated bureaucratic equivalent of the blue flu. So much for being a nation at war.

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