Continuous Evaluation program in place to ensure secure operations

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

Military personnel, government employees and contractors across Arnold Engineering Development Complex are subject to enrollment in Continuous Evaluation, or CE, which is an ongoing screening process to review the background of individuals tasked with sensitive duties or those eligible to access classified information.

CE essentially bridges the gap between investigations necessary to maintain this access. It is a component of security clearance reform efforts to modernize personnel security practices and increase the timeliness of information reviewed between periodic investigation cycles.

CE is the random periodic reviewing of selected individuals that have current Top Secret or Secret eligibility to determine whether they continue to meet the requirements for national security eligibility. DOD Instruction 5200.02 states all personnel in national security positions will be subject to CE.

“CE leverages automated record checks and applies business rules, aligned to the Federal Investigative Standards, to assist in the ongoing assessment of an individual’s continued eligibility,” said Alecia Davis, facility security officer for National Aerospace Solutions, the Test Operations and Sustainment contractor for AEDC.

Enrollment in CE removes the traditional investigation requirements based on risk management principles and dramatically reduces the amount of time it takes to run the traditional periodic reinvestigation.

“This allows investigators to concentrate efforts on higher risk personnel,” said Jack Glasser, AEDC Personnel and Operations Security Program manager. “Additionally, where the traditional reinvestigation could take three to seven months, CE enrollment vetting is a proactive process that takes an average of one week and continuously thereafter throughout an airman’s career. The reduction of time and resources has paid dividends and has allowed the DOD to focus on funding other programs that support the National Defense Strategy.”

Individuals authorize participation in CE when signing the Standard Form 86, or SF-86, for release of information and submission for either their initial clearance determination as part of the pre-employment process or periodic background investigations.

Completion of an SF-86 is required:

  • Six years from the date of an individual’s last investigation for T5Rs, which pertain to Top Secret level, Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Program access
  • Ten years from the date of an individual’s last reinvestigation for T3Rs, which pertain to Secret level access

Enrollment in CE does not eliminate the requirement to complete an SF-86 for a periodic reinvestigation.

“Anyone that has a Secret or Top Secret clearance is subject to periodic reinvestigations at predetermined intervals as well as Continuous Evaluation as they are enrolled,” Davis said.

“If NAS employees are enrolled in CE, they are made aware of the fact they are enrolled and given a document with additional information concerning reporting guidelines. They are advised to self-report in accordance with the Adjudicative Guidelines rather than waiting for the CE program to identify the information.”

The 13 Adjudicative Guidelines referenced by Davis are the guidelines used to determine whether someone is a security risk or concern and his or her eligibility to perform sensitive duties. These guidelines include: allegiance to the U.S., foreign influence, foreign preference, sexual behavior, personal conduct, financial considerations, alcohol consumption, drug involvement, psychological conditions, criminal conduct, the handling of protected information, outside activities and the use of information technology systems.

When an individual is enrolled in CE, his or her employer will be alerted to any changes in his or her eligibility.

Investigation submittals with potentially adverse information still require formal investigation and adjudication.

“Immediate self-reporting adverse information is more important than ever since the implementation of CE,” Davis said. “The CE processes are receiving real-time information about individuals; no more waiting until the periodic investigation to report.”

Davis said it is important to note that CE will check an individual’s credit periodically. However, the check does not show on the credit report and does not affect the credit score.

“The Information Protection Office stresses everyone to report credit issues that may adversely affect their credit score before a random CE review reveals the adverse,” Glasser said. “Random reviews of financial issues through the three main credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – have increased during the pandemic, and the DOD Central Adjudicative Facility, or DOD CAF, wants to ensure that the individual has made a good-faith effort to repay overdue creditors or otherwise resolve their debt. Self-reporting strengthens your conviction to repay overdue debt.”

It is also possible to be unenrolled in CE if a commander or the DOD CAF determines the circumstances surrounding an Airman poses an unacceptable risk to national security.

According to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, all clearance holders will be at least partially enrolled in CE by the end of the 2021 fiscal year.