Why Is Everything Classified?
Why are so many things in our government classified? More importantly, why are our personnel screening and reliability programs so flawed and ineffective?
Right now, the Office of Personnel Management is alerting more than 48,000 federal employees their personal information may have been exposed following a breach at KeyPoint Government Solutions, which conducts background investigations of federal employees seeking security clearances.
This breach happened with one of the contractors that perform background investigations on Federal personnel with security clearances. Lack of management has created an over-classification phenomenon throughout the government that wastes resources at a staggering rate. During a quarter-century of work in the Federal government, I’ve become very sure of this: through laziness and a desire to avoid accountability, the government tries to classify everything.
Pervasive over-classification results in a staggering demand for cleared personnel. I’ve had a Federal TOP SECRET clearance since 1988. I’ve been through more of these investigations than I can remember. With the exception of the enhanced investigations in a few special programs, the normal government approach is a routine, perfunctory approach that many companies do as a pre-hire screening. Unfortunately, the individuals in this bureaucratic machine turn over the details of their personal information, details on family members and associates, and their credit data. This is an expensive and annoying process. Regrettably, the government consistently demonstrates its inability to either protect this data or even use it effectively for its intended use. Every person who has ever hurt us through espionage took only things they had been granted access to through this process.
The government itself recognizes that the over-classification dilutes resources and makes it impossible to properly protect the few things that actually merit protection. It begs the question: why are so many things in our government classified? More importantly, why are our personnel screening and reliability programs so flawed and ineffective?