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OPM's security clearance chief retires

Jan. 31, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Kathy Dillaman, associate director for federal investigative services, is retiring from the Office of Personnel and Management.
Kathy Dillaman, associate director for federal investigative services, is retiring from the Office of Personnel and Management. ()

Kathy Dillaman, the Office of Personnel Management official in charge of speeding up the government's security clearance process, retired Monday from her position as associate director of federal investigative services.

Dillaman, who worked for OPM and its predecessor for 35 years, will be replaced Tuesday by Merton Miller, her deputy associate director for external affairs.

"I have worked closely with Mert since he joined our team in February 2009, and I have been incredibly impressed by his extraordinary leadership skills," Dillaman said in a Jan. 10 e-mail announcing her retirement. "Mert brings to this position high energy, enthusiasm, and a dedication to our mission that is second to none. And most importantly, he shares my deep appreciation and admiration for our incredible workforce."

Dillaman said she will serve temporarily as a senior policy adviser to OPM Director John Berry on issues such as security clearance reform, implementing a new financial management system, and other projects for the next year or two.

Dillaman pushed for increased manpower and automation to speed up the security clearance process, which at one point reached a backlog of about 531,000 cases. Federal employees and contractors often waited months or years to receive their clearances.

Dillaman more than doubled OPM's investigative work force between 2004 and 2008, bringing it to 9,400, and detailed staffers to the FBI and state and local agencies to push through overdue file requests. She also pushed agencies to use more automation, such as the eQIP system used to submit clearance applications online.

The backlog is now gone. In December, OPM said that it conducted 90 percent of its investigations in an average 39 days in fiscal 2010 one day less than the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act required.

But despite Dillaman's efforts, many agencies are reluctant to accept security clearances granted by other agencies. Dillaman said last month that she thinks the government is making progress. The number of investigation requests rejected by OPM dropped by 50 percent in fiscal 2010, which Dillaman said indicates more agencies are accepting other agencies' clearances and not launching redundant investigations.

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