- differing security standards across components
- opaque internal processes, and
- slow communications from DHS to contractors
One contractor testified that his employees wait, on average, 213 days for a DHS fitness determination even though the company has worked with DHS for more than ten years. Another contractor complained that DHS had approved an employee in June but didn't bother conveying that information to the contractor until the following February, eight months later. Other contractors complained that different components within DHS had their own unique standards for clearing contractor employees. Many other anecdotal fumblings by DHS came out in that hearing.
Last week, as a direct result of that hearing, two Congressmen introduced a bill in the House that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to streamline "fitness determinations" for people working under contract for the Department. This is not a bill that addresses fitness as in physical fitness but one that addresses character and conduct.
This Bill, if passed, would require DHS to:
- coordinate with the heads of components of the Department to review and consolidate all Federal contractor fitness standards used by the Department and its components in order to issue a uniform set of fitness standards that reflect public trust concerns which correspond to each position risk level
- require the Department to use such uniform fitness standards that corresond to the relevant position risk level as the basis for fitness determinations for a contractor employee; and
- publish the standards that correspond to each such position risk level on the public website and the Federal Register.
You can read the full text of the proposed legislation here.