Just about everything in everyday life has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. This includes the way local and state offices have been able to adapt and keep up with security. As the rest of the country locked down, offices that typically gather fingerprints for credentialing standards had to cease that practice. Some individuals lost security clearance altogether. So, what can you expect when it comes to your security clearance in the COVID-19 era?
How the Application Process Has Changed
At the beginning of the pandemic, many agencies that were still able to collect fingerprints and process them were urged to do so. However, many public agencies did not have that option. So, instead, they bypassed fingerprinting altogether and proceeded with onboarding. Prior to the pandemic, no onboarding would move forward without the applicant being fingerprinted.
The Impact on Current Clearance Holders
Current clearance holders are also being hurt by the pandemic. Much of their work requires them to be in the office and a fingerprint to gain access to the information needed. William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), stated the office was aware of the potential economic hardship of these clearance holders.
The NCSC is asking these individuals not to be penalized for circumstances “beyond their control.” They should be allowed to ask for financial hardship assistance while they are out of work. It is a good idea to encourage these individuals to seek out the help of a financial advisor that may be able to assist them in constructing a new financial plan.
Additionally, if a security clearance holder was to seek out psychological help during this time, it should not be viewed in a negative manner. Instead, it should be viewed as a positive effort made to address their mental health.
What Does the Future Look Like For Security Clearance Holders?
There will still be plenty of delays with fingerprinting and gaining clearance as agencies get their processes nailed down. Anyone looking to gain or maintain their current clearance will need to adhere to requirements in a timely manner.
This means if you needed to go get fingerprints taken, you’ll need to schedule an appointment and get it taken care of within the specified dates. National security officials have also begun to adapt the way they oversee these clearances as well. However, despite social distancing and COVID-19 worries, clearance adjudicators will continue vetting, evaluations, and reviews.
Either way, adjudication and security precautions are moving forward. In some cases, this may even include telework and remote investigations. Because of this, members of Congress have begun constructing a bill to help withhold the country’s security during the COVID era.
The Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 aims to balance the work of security officials in the country beyond just COVID-19. It protects the national security clearance policy and vetting process described above.
The IAA also opens up the idea of hiring flexibility for advancement in the Intelligence Community. This means a telework option may be available for many people. Additionally, childcare and student loan repayment options will be available to individuals working in national security.
While it still is not 100% certain how each job will change, it is clear that security clearances and expectations won’t be going anywhere. If you hold a position or are looking for a position that requires a security clearance, be prepared for delays, and be clear on any expectations of you.
Things are changing quickly, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. If you need to gain a better understanding of how these changes may impact you or how to implement these changes in the workplace, contact our team of leading recruiters today