White House, Congress Transform Security Clearance System

When Northrop Grumman bid aggressively in 2015 for a contract to develop the Air Force's next bomber, it made a series of assumptions about how business processes could be streamlined. One factor it probably didn't give much thought to was the challenge of obtaining security clearances for hundreds of engineers who would be working on the “black” (super-secret) program.

Unfortunately, by the time Northrop secured the contract, the system for awarding security clearances had begun to come unraveled and the company ended up with many of its personnel waiting hundreds of days to get the necessary tickets so they could start working. The proximate cause of the collapse was an Obama Administration decision to cancel a contract with the company conducting 60% of all federal background investigations for clearances.

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