from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2014, Issue No. 46
July 16, 2014
Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
- WANTED: A CHEF WITH A TOP SECRET CLEARANCE
- HOUSE AMENDMENT WOULD CUT NSC BUDGET BY A THIRD
- COUNTERTERRORISM PARTNERSHIPS FUND, AND MORE FROM CRS
WANTED: A CHEF WITH A TOP SECRET CLEARANCE
A secure U.S. government facility in Herndon, Virginia needs a master chef who holds or who can obtain a Top Secret security clearance.
The job opening was announced by Sodexo, the international food service company.
"Sodexo's Government Services Division is seeking a strong Executive Chef to manage all the culinary operations at a high profile government dining account in Northern Virginia. The successful candidate must be able to obtain a TS/SCI clearance," the announcement said.
Though it may seem ridiculous, the requirement for a chef with a Top Secret clearance exemplifies a significant policy problem, namely the use of the security clearance process as an employee screening tool.
To all appearances, a chef does not need a security clearance. Although the successful applicant "must become familiar with Sodexo recipes," those recipes are not national security secrets, and a clearance should not needed to perform the job of Executive Chef.
Nevertheless, a clearance requirement has evidently been imposed because the "culinary operations" are to be conducted in a secure government facility that will place the chef in proximity to secrets, even if he or she does not actually come into possession of any.
This use of the national security clearance process has contributed to the skyrocketing growth in security-cleared personnel. As of October 2013, the number of persons eligible for access to classified information had grown to 5.1 million persons, including over 1.5 million with Top Secret clearances. According to an ODNI report, only 60% of those persons had access to classified information, suggesting that vastly more clearances are being requested and granted than are actually required.
A February 2014 report to the President from the Office of Management and Budget said the security clearance system had become too large and that it needed to be reduced.
"[The] growth in the number of clearance-holders increases costs and exposes classified national security information, often at very sensitive levels, to an increasingly large population," said the OMB review.
Accordingly, the OMB recommended that the government "reduce [the] total population of 5.1M Secret and TS/SCI clearance holders to minimize risk of access to sensitive information and reduce cost."
Eliminating the TS/SCI clearance requirement for access to the kitchens and dining rooms of government facilities might be a sensible place to start.
Food service at CIA headquarters, which has been managed by Sodexo, was the subject of some persnickety complaints from CIA employees that were recently disclosed through the Freedom of Information Act by MuckRock.
The Department of Defense revoked more than 19,000 existing security clearances from FY2009 through the first half of FY2013, DoD told Congress in a hearing record that was published earlier this month.
HOUSE AMENDMENT WOULD CUT NSC BUDGET BY A THIRD
The House of Representatives yesterday approved an amendment to cut the budget for the National Security Council by one third in response to NSC moves to block congressional access to information.
"Over the last few months, we have had several instances in which the National Security staff has mandated that the Department of Defense and other agencies selectively withhold information from congressional oversight committees," complained Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), who introduced the amendment. It was not immediately clear which instances of withholding he was referring to.
"Accurate, complete, and timely reporting by the Department of Defense is essential for the [Appropriations] committee to conduct its oversight responsibilities," added Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN), who endorsed the amendment to cut the NSC budget.
"Over the past few years, the size of the National Security Council's staff has grown, and it appears that they have moved beyond their Presidential advisory role to involve themselves in decisions which are not in their purview," said Rep. Frelinghuysen.
The amendment to reduce the FY 2015 NSC budget by $4.2 million, or approximately one-third, passed the House on a voice vote.
COUNTERTERRORISM PARTNERSHIPS FUND, AND MORE FROM CRS
The Obama Administration has requested $5 billion to create a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF). The program would "build on existing tools and authorities" to establish a "more sustainable and effective" counterterrorism approach, focusing on building the counterterrorism capacity of partners worldwide through "train-and-equip" and other activities, according to the Congressional Research Service.
"The CTPF proposal raises many questions regarding counterterrorism strategy, roles, responsibilities, authorities, and Congressional oversight," said CRS in a brief overview of the initiative. See "The Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) Proposal: Questions for Congress," July 14.
In another new publication, CRS summarized current news reporting on "Israel and Hamas: Another Round of Conflict," July 15.
The latest Administration funding request, largely for immigration and border security, was discussed by CRS in "FY2014 Supplemental Appropriations Request."
Some other newly updated CRS reports include these:
Block Grants: Perspectives and Controversies, July 15, 2014:
Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile, July 14, 2014:
Privacy Protection for Customer Financial Information, July 14, 2014:
Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, July 11, 2014:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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