New Paper Addresses Recruiting and Clearing Personnel with Foreign Ties

July 28, 2022

In a June 2022 white paper, INSA calls for the Intelligence Community (IC) security apparatus to review its assumptions around clearing U.S. citizens with foreign ties in order to attract and retain a world class IC workforce.

Developed by INSA’s Security Policy Reform Council, the paper, Promoting Cultural Diversity in the Intelligence Community: Recruiting and Clearing Personnel with Foreign Ties, (pdf) reveals that while the IC views recruiting and retaining a culturally diverse workforce as a strategic priority, the security clearance process does not lend itself to the achievement of this aim.

"To understand dynamics in foreign countries, intelligence agencies need to hire people with native language skills, cultural expertise, and experience living and traveling abroad, many of whom have family and friends overseas who are not U.S. citizens,” said Larry Hanauer, INSA's Vice President for Policy.  “Although these patriotic Americans are positioned to make unique contributions to the IC, the government’s approach of eliminating, rather than mitigating, risk makes it inordinately difficult for them to receive a security clearance. As a result, the IC loses out in the competition for top talent."

The paper offers several recommendations the U.S. national security apparatus should pursue to clear a diverse workforce:

  • Identify the “essential skills” necessary to fill mission-critical roles;
  • Train recruitment teams on practices regarding the assessment of applicants’ foreign ties;
  • Develop bias awareness training for all officials involved in recruitment, hiring, and investigations;
  • Direct employees with high-risk foreign ties to security and counterintelligence trainings; and
  • Compile lessons learned and share best practices with industry.