Additional Advisors/Committee Members
Jim Wansley, Ben Skipper
This Organizational Action Project (OAP) examined and addressed security clearance-based delays for Twenty-Fifth Air Force (25 AF) airmen at National Security Agency (NSA) sites and other locations with that organization’s mission systems. The approximate personnel cost associated with this issue was $95.98M at the beginning of the OAP cycle. Across the enterprise, 985 airmen were unable to perform their missions due to this problem. Given its significance, the OAP focused on discovering initiatives that could be pursued at any stage of the security clearance granting process.
Data relevant to the issue was collected from our field units and published weekly to senior leaders in the organization. Tracked data consisted of open National Background Investigation Bureau priority personnel security investigations and DoD Consolidated Adjudication Facility adjudications, NSA Military Affairs Division (MADO) security holds, and counter-intelligence polygraph requirements. Using this institutional data, Air Force Instruction (AFI) 65-503 (US Air Force Cost and Planning Factors) was utilized to apply costs to define the original state of affairs and determine the impact of improvements.
A representative, though not all-inclusive, list of actions taken includes: 1) Applications for intelligence-related personnel are now given a priority label at Military Entrance Processing Stations, 2) four contract clearance screeners were added to the Basic Military Training workforce, 3) a personnel processing code requiring a current ci-polygraph in order to get movement orders was added to certain assignments, 4) MADO authorized site-to-site transfers, 5) MADO agreed to accept security information packages six months prior to arrival, and 6) a Clearance Workforce Verification System contract was awarded to create a web-based solution to handle transfer paperwork. By the conclusion of the OAP reporting cycle, a $15.8M (17 percent) improvement occurred. The impact of all actions taken will not be seen until 2019 and beyond.
The findings and results of this project highlight that addressing a significant and potentially daunting multi-organizational problem like security clearance-based delays is not insurmountable. This OAP pursued operational improvements to gain the most from the current system. The project was not designed to overhaul the structure of the security clearance process. This author posits that what is really needed from future researchers is an approach more akin to the operational innovation described by Michael Hammer where an entirely new way of doing business alters the security clearance process to achieve breakthrough change.
Smith, Shane, "NSA Site Access: Twenty-Fifth Air Force’s $95M+ Problem" (2018). Aerospace & Defense MBA Organizational Action Project Reports.