Security Clearances

Consideration of Sexual Orientation in the Clearance Process Gao ID: NSIAD-95-21 March 24, 1995

GAO found during a review of eight federal agencies that, in a break with government policy dating to the 1950s, sexual orientation was no longer a factor in issuing security clearances to federal workers and contractors. Some persons GAO spoke with, however, believed that they had been asked inappropriate questions during the clearance process. All eight agencies indicated that concealment of any personal behavior that could result in exploitation, blackmail, or coercion was a security concern. However, the treatment of concealment as it relates to sexual orientation varies. Most agencies have eliminated specific questions about sexual orientation, but Defense Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation guidelines treat concealment as a security concern.

GAO found that: (1) security clearance problems related to sexual orientation appear to be declining; (2) a review of selected cases from fiscal year 1993 showed that sexual orientation was not a factor in denials, revocations, or suspensions of security clearances; (3) the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Secret Service have stated that sexual orientation is not a criterion in granting security clearances, but they have not yet revised their investigative policies and procedures; and (4) no clear linkage exists between sexual orientation and espionage.


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