How Federal Security Background Checks Have Changed Since 9/11  DataCheck - Home

How Federal Security Background Checks Have Changed Since 9/11

Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has become involved in many aspects of security that were previously handled by private companies. These changes have affected the way that employee background checks are conducted.

The American Society for Industrial Security worked with the federal government to gain passage of the Private Security Guard Act of 2002, which requires employers throughout the country to obtain FBI criminal background checks on any individual who applies for or currently works as a private security officer. ASIS has also supported the development of certification programs for security personnel.

Since 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration has taken over the job of providing airport security from private companies. While a small number of private airport security guards were retained, they are slowly being phased out. Trucking companies that handle hazardous materials have suggested improved security measures, including employee identification checks.

Reviews of the security of power grids and utilities across the country after 9/11 led to several changes in policies. These included changes to the ways the utilities planned for and dealt with threats, as well as the ways that background checks are conducted for employees.

According to a report recently released by the Office of Personnel Management, federal background checkers need greater access to federal and state criminal records. The report recommended reducing the number of workers granted special access by the federal government and more frequent follow-up investigations of individuals holding security clearances. The report said the law needed to be changed and more federal funding needed to be made available in order to implement the recommendations. OPM said the increase in the number of workers who are eligible for federal security clearances since 9/11 has increased the risks and costs associated with conducting background checks. While OPM oversees government background checks, most of the work is performed by contractors.

In response to the Navy Yard shooting last year, President Obama appointed the Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council to review the federal government's background check policies and recommend changes to provide better security. The council includes representatives from OPM, national intelligence, and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice.

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