Specialists Scan the Security Clearance System on FEDtalk

Navigating the security clearance process in an evolving world can be difficult. FEDtalk brought together security clearance specialists from the federal government, industry, and personnel side to discuss how the process is changing and how those changes impact applicants. Joining host Tony Vergnetti was the Director of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), Perry Russell-Hunter; Executive Vice President and Counsel to the Professional Services Council, Alan Chvotkin; and Partner at Shaw Bransford & Roth, Chris Keeven.

Chvotkin and Russell-Hunter began the show with an in-depth, inside look at how the security clearance process works from the initial application through the adjudicative process.

This show aired on the heels of President Trump’s signing of an executive order moving parts of the security clearance process from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the Department of Defense (DOD), which will now have purview over all security clearance matters.

Chvotkin expressed his pleasure with this move by the administration, noting the importance of simplifying and unifying the system under one operation.

Russell-Hunter further expressed how security clearance modernization has transcended traditional, Washington party politics. Russell-Hunter noted, “Clearance reform is ongoing. One of the things I am most proud about in federal service is that when I got involved in clearance reform… it has spanned now three administrations with, sometimes incremental, but always forward moving clearance reform and continuous clearance reform… It is not political at all; it is probably one of the most apolitical things you can do in government.”

Keeven, Vergnetti, Chvotkin, and Russell-Hunter discussed how changing social tides impact the security clearance system as well, such as how the process has had to modernize passport guidelines in an age of increased international travel and how the initial forms have altered the way they address mental health to remove stigma and encourage treatment.

One thing that has not changed, as Russell-Hunter and Keeven note, is the regulation of marijuana, which remains a controlled substance under federal law despite individual state laws.

To hear more from last week’s FEDtalk click here to listen to the FEDtalk Podcast.

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