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Delays in Federal Government Security Clearances

​The Process IS Improving… Here’s How

While systems, technologies , networks , email platforms, back-offices and procurement within the Federal Government are all moving towards consolidation to provide savings among other positive outcomes, it seems Security and Security Clearances required with the Feds move in quite the opposite direction. In fact, they’re becoming ever more complex for vendors and contractors alike. With the nature of Security as an overall topic, we don’t expect it to become easier any time soon.

CISD, the division of Public Works responsible for Industrial Security in the Government, have suffered with limited resources and budget to keep up with the increasing demand and complexity. As a result, many contracts and projects are delayed and, in many cases cancelled, while waiting for Security Clearances. Delays and backlogs are unfortunately the order of the day. Vendors and, of course, Independent Contractors have suffered immensely as a result and frustration with the delays is pervasive, including many client departments.

The other very significant development has been the advent of the requirement that Independent Contractors not only hold Personal Security Clearance but in addition, their incorporated companies must similarly be registered and cleared to the same level. This is referred to as a Private Sector Organization Screening or PSOS.

So what’s new and news on both of these fronts?

First, on the overall delays and backlog issues in the everyday effort to obtain, duplicate and transfer Clearances, CISD has recognized the issue and made commitments at four levels.

  1. Process- Poor Timelines:

    Back-log teams have been deployed to improve turn around times and fix back logs. As a result, Reliability Clearance is largely up to date.

  2. Online Application System (OLISS):

    An old, slow system is set to be updated in its entirety in the next year.

  3. Call Centre:

    Wait times are very significant and a new system will be in place in the next year.

  4. Communication:

    CISD has committed to a better communication plan with industry on process changes, renewal information etc.

As for the PSOS process which requires all independent contractors to go through in order to win government contracts , CISD has committed to a process whereby once a contractor together with their sponsoring organization submits the registration request, an “establishing” letter will go out to both parties, giving them 30 days to acknowledge and submit the required information and documents. If the organization doesn’t respond, a second email will go out, giving them 10 days to respond. If there is still no response, then the file will be closed. If incomplete or inaccurate information is provided, it will be returned and the whole process will have to be restarted.

There is an expected transition period for all contractors to get this PSOS but rest assured it will be mandatory to win Federal Government business in the future.

There it is — not exciting stuff but it is the reality of Ottawa (and excuse me for all the acronyms) and the wonderful world of Security that goes hand-in-hand with it! If you have any other questions around regarding Security Clearances or the PSOS process, please leave them in the comment section below and we’ll get you your answers as quickly as possible.