Senate Intelligence Committee members expressed frustration this week about an evident lack of efficiency among government agencies when it comes to hiring process conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Testimony at the March 29 committee hearing covered some of those problems, including with reciprocity of required security clearances.

“Reciprocity has been a challenge,” said Stacy Dixon, principal deputy at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI).

“I think with this in particular, I know that industry partners have raised that as a significant concern,” she said.

The problem that many agencies run into deals with how security clearances are not interchangeable between intelligence organizations, which makes vetting processes more arduous, and creates barriers to hiring.

“I don’t mean to be argumentative but we’re being reassured about reciprocity, but it ain’t happening,” said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. “Reciprocity means you can do it here, you can do it over here if you quit. Don’t use the term reciprocity if it’s not reciprocity,” he said.

The process of generating interest from qualified candidates is “getting increasingly difficult,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“From people that I know, I’ve actively tried to encourage people to pursue serving their country at one of the agencies,” the senator said. “It’s just really hard, because when you go see them, and you tell them, ‘It’ll take two or three years to clear you.’”

“Who can sit around for two or three years to wait to be hired,” he continued, “especially when we’re competing with the private sector for some of this talent.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.