Sen. Mark Warner sent a letter to the acting director of national intelligence (DNI) and the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue clear guidance ensuring that security clearances will not be jeopardized due to financial impacts of COVID-19.
“I write to ask you to issue guidance directing agencies to exercise appropriate leniency in considering how the coronavirus (COVID-19) may be negatively impacting adjudications for a security clearance or determination of trust,” Sen. Warner wrote.
Sen. Warner raised concerns that financial instability could lead to delays in renewing security clearances and cause hardship for employees with security clearances. He stressed that it could “result in personnel losing their positions in the event that they must heed the advice of health professionals and subsequently lose out on a paycheck” to self-quarantine.
“While I understand that departments and agencies may already have certain discretion to consider broader contextual factors that may affect personnel vetting decisions, I ask you to issue clear and public guidance that departments and agencies may in no way penalize employees’ clearances or determinations of trustworthiness due to circumstances associated with coping with COVID-19,” Sen. Warner said. “This guidance should apply to any information used in an initial clearance, a periodic reinvestigation, or a continuous evaluation program.”