- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The government system that provided Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis a “secret” security clearance has been beset by problems.

A “secret” clearance requires a far less intrusive investigation into a person’s background than that for a “top secret” or higher security designation. The Government Accountability Office notes that it costs the government $4,000 to conduct a background check for a top-secret clearance, but only $260 for a secret clearance.

In 2012, the GAO reported that the Defense Department and other agencies “will continue to risk making security clearance determinations that are inconsistent or at improper levels” because of there is no single set of guidelines to determine who gets or doesn’t get a clearance.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon to review security procedures at all bases

The office of the director of national intelligence (DNI) was supposed to set up unified standards, but had not when the GAO report was issued.

“The process has not been completed yet,” DNI spokesman Gene Barlow said Tuesday, adding that the agency is working on one guideline.

Security at the Navy Yard and within the Defense Department emerged as key issues in the aftermath of Monday’s shooting spree in which 12 civilian workers were slain at the naval facility in Southeast Washington.

Citing a Pentagon inspector general report, Rep. Michael R. Turner, Ohio Republican and a key member of the House Committee on Armed Services, said the Navy Yard’s security system was installed to cut costs and may be flawed.

“I am highly concerned that the access control systems at our nation’s military installations have serious security flaws,” Mr. Turner, chairman of the Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, said in a letter Monday to acting Pentagon Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks.

In addition, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said he wondered whether budget cuts had something to do with a gunman getting onto the base.

“As I look at, for example, sequestration, which is about saving money in the federal government being spent, have we somehow skimped on what would be available for projects like this and then we put people at risk?” Mr. Gray said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to order a review of physical security and access at all U.S. defense installations worldwide, a senior Pentagon official said on background.

Mr. Hagel was collecting input from senior leaders Tuesday to define the parameters of the review, which could be announced as early as Wednesday.

The move follows Navy Secretary Ray Mabus‘ decision to direct a “rapid review” of Navy and Marine Corps security procedures at military bases in the U.S. by Oct. 1.

Security check

Alexis was one of about 4.8 million government and contractor employees who hold some type of security clearance. The main designations are confidential, secret, top secret, and top secret, special compartmented information.

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