Your bosses could have a file on you and they can misunderstand you

For decades, much of the federal government’s security clearance process has been based on techniques that emerged in the mid-20th century.

“It’s very manual,” said Evan Lesser, president of ClearanceJobs, a website that posts jobs, news and tips for positions that involve security clearances. “Driving cars to meet people. It is very old-fashioned and time-consuming.”

A federal initiative that began in 2018 called Trusted Workforce 2.0 formally introduced semi-automated screening of federal employees that happens in near real time. This program will allow the government to use artificial intelligence to subject employees who are seeking or already have security clearances to “ongoing screening and assessment,” basically an ongoing assessment that constantly takes in information, throws up red flags, and includes self-reporting and analysis. human. .

“Can we build a system that monitors someone and continues to monitor them and is aware of the disposition of that person as it exists in legal systems and public record systems on an ongoing basis?” said Chris Grijalva, senior technical director at Peraton, a company that focuses on the government side of internal analysis. “And from that idea was born the notion of ongoing assessments.”

Such efforts had been used in government in more ad hoc ways since the 1980s. But the 2018 announcement was aimed at modernizing government policies, which typically reassessed employees every five to 10 years. The motivation for the adjustment in policy and practice was, in part, the accumulation of research required and the idea that circumstances and people change.

“That’s why it’s so compelling to keep people under some sort of constant, ever-evolving surveillance process,” said Martha Louise Deutscher, author of the book “Screening the System: Exposing Security Clearance Dangers.” He added that, “Every day you’re going to do the credit check, and every day you’re going to do the criminal background check, and check bank accounts, marital status, and make sure people aren’t in those circumstances where they become at risk if they weren’t yesterday.”

The first phase of the program, a transition period before full implementation, ended in the fall of 2021. In December, the US Government Accountability Office recommended that the effectiveness of automation be evaluated (although not, you know, continuously).

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