Department of Defense, military personnel now subject to automated 'continuous vetting' program

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency’s "Trusted Workforce 2.0" program is expected to handle all US security clearances by the end of 2023.

Nick Monroe Cleveland Ohio

The vetting process for military and Department of Defense personnel is now "continuous" as it applies to checks for security clearance approval. The building of this effort is mostly waiting on the computer hardware side to fully catch up.

Official lingo from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) shortens "continuous vetting" to CV in their promotional material. It’s there the public learns that the Trusted Workforce 2.0 program intended to carry this CV process out was first launched in March 2018.

It has been under development since then, with the goal being "early detection to address potential indicators and allow individuals the opportunity to seek assistance before potentially becoming an insider threat."

Reporting from FCW on Oct. 6 talks about how this is being implemented and details the reliance of IT development to make it work. For that insight, they spoke with DCSA director William Lietzau.

He said "approximately 4 million" defense employees are under the umbrella of Trusted Workforce 2.0. It’s intended to eventually replace the "periodic reinvestigations" system entirely (as of now contractors and federal employees with security clearance get re-evaluated every 5 to 15 years).

FCW lays out the data stream for Trusted Workforce 2.0’s automated CV process. They’ll assess "criminal checks, suspicious financial transactions, foreign travel records, terrorism and counterterrorism databases, public records and credit bureau reports. Those categories are in addition to specific eligibility requirements laid out by the requesting agency or department."

The report heavily suggests the potential for social media to be included in the future. "We're always looking for better data sources to give us a bigger picture. And then we're always looking for better analytical approaches, and leveraging IT systems to be able to get from a point of an alert to 'is this something actionable that we should be doing something about," said the DCSA director.

Lietzau said that personal values like civil liberties and privacy will be "dealt with over time" as the system evolves. It’s said that the DCSA has "multiple pilot programs" that are reviewing whether or not the aspect of social media is useful for Trusted Workforce 2.0’s scheme. The end goal for Trusted Workforce 2.0 is having it handled all security clearance vetting by the end of 2023.

The FCW piece says 28 federal agencies now use this CV process, naming the Federal Aviation Administration and Health and Human Services as examples.

The relevancy of social media was a focal point in the recent case of Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller. In late August, the Marine was fired for a Facebook video post he made demanding accountability from the Biden administration’s military leadership over their botched Afghanistan withdrawal.

By late September, it was reported Scheller was formally arrested by military officials for violating a social media gag order placed on him. He faces an upcoming court martial trial in the coming days.


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