App speeds turnaround time for Army's security clearance process

The Army Central Clearance Facility has automated the service's security clearance process.

The facility at Fort Meade, Md., manages security clearances for all Army personnel, whether active-duty, Reserve, Guard or civilian. It is the job of the facility staff to grant or deny a clearance application following investigation by the Defense Security Service.

Prior to using Integic Corp.'s e.Power software, the staff kept security clearance information in folders stowed in a massive file room.

The paper files were time-consuming to assemble and search through, said Robert Knight, information management officer for ACCF. Plus, they took up a lot of space.

Processing secret security clearances regularly took two to three days by the manual paper process, Knight said. Today, it takes a few hours with ePower from Integic of Chantilly, Va.

The workflow management software standardizes document indexing and lets the staff access electronic documents over the Internet.

Knight said the change to an electronic format also lets the service use the data in new ways, to analyze trends in the clearance process or among the applicants, for instance.

'When we developed the electronic file folders, we [no longer] had to do all the filing, sorting and sequencing,' he said.

But not paper folders

Using e.Power, a clearance processor builds an administrative worksheet folder for each new application. The folder contains an employee's name, materials from the background investigation'such as interviews with family members and neighbors, criminal records checks'and other information gathered by the Defense Security Service.

ACCF staff reviews the information collected by DSS and makes a determination about whether to grant, deny or revoke a security clearance. About 96 percent of all applications are granted, Knight said.

The Army in December bought a 135-user license from Integic. Under the $325,000 contract, the Army also acquired two Compaq ProLiant Pentium III servers.

The application runs under Microsoft Windows NT, and the clearance data is stored in an Oracle Corp. database.

'It's not a very robust environment, but it's sufficient for what we do,' Knight said.

The Army shop processes 200 to 400 investigations a day, he said.

A few years ago, the facility had a backlog of 600,000 security clearances to process.

ACCF has now eliminated the backlog and will process an additional 125,000 security clearances this year, said Steve Hofinger, business unit leader of Integic's e-government practice.

Other users of e.Power include the Defense Contract Management Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Distribution Center, DOD Military Health System, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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