Re: [xmca] Fwd: The Three C's - Security Clearances, Research Contracts, and AERA Concerns

From: Cathrene Connery <ConneryC who-is-at>
Date: Fri Apr 06 2007 - 19:43:18 PDT

I wonder if the same scrutiny is required for the government contractors
currently "supplementing' the troops in Afganistan and Iraq. Doubtful!

M. Cathrene Connery, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Bilingual & TESL Education
Co-coordinator, Bilingual / TESL Program
Central Washington University

>>> David Preiss <> 4/6/2007 4:33 PM >>>

Oh my god!

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "AERA Executive Director, Felice J. Levine" <aera-
> Date: April 6, 2007 4:06:53 PM GMT-04:00
> To:
> Subject: The Three C's - Security Clearances, Research Contracts,
> and AERA Concerns
> Reply-To: "AERA Executive Director, Felice J. Levine" <aera-
> April 6, 2007
> Dear AERA Members:
> As final bags and boxes are being closed for the 2007 AERA Annual
> Meeting, I want to update you on an important matter for education
> researchers working under federal contracts. Over the course of
> this past year, the U.S. Department of Education has taken new
> steps to implement security clearance procedures for contractor
> employees. Several AERA members informed the Association and
> expressed serious concern that the process is intrusive and
> unwarranted for non-classified research. Articles on the topic have

> appeared recently in The New York Times
> (
> &emc=rss) and Education Week (
> 2007/02/21/24checks.h26.html).
> Over many months, AERA has been investigating this situation and
> pressing for greater understanding. Since September, we have been
> engaged in discussions with numerous federal officials at the
> Department of Education and other federal agencies as well as
> working with other research organizations (in particular with the
> American Association for the Advancement of Science) and
> individuals in the scientific community to scrutinize this issue
> and learn as much as we can. President Eva Baker described some of
> these activities in the January/February 2007 issue of Educational
> Researcher (
> The actual clearance procedures required of contractual personnel
> vary by the risk level assigned to a position, but minimally
> require employees on contracts who are designated low risk to
> submit fingerprints. Low risk positions include those on a
> contractor*s research team who conduct statistical analyses, but
> have no access to personally-identifiable information. Contractor
> employees in moderate-risk positions must provide a release for
> credit information and may also be asked to sign a release allowing

> investigators to ask specific questions of an individual*s health

> care provider regarding prior mental health consultations.
> Researchers who collect or have access to personally-identifiable
> information or sensitive, but unclassified information are
> considered moderate risk under current Department of Education
> Directive OM:5-101, Contractor Employee Personnel Security
> Our goal has been to understand the authority underlying the
> changes, determine whether the situation is unique to the
> Department of Education, and to effectuate change where needed. Our

> efforts in the fall, for example, led the Department of Education
> to indicate that the directive would be revised and its
> implementation examined. Most recently, the Department of Education

> also confirmed that the medical/mental health release was not
> required for moderate-risk positions (at least as an initial step).

> At our urging, agency officials agreed to add an instruction to
> this effect so that contracting officers and contractors would be
> aware of this at the onset.
> An overarching concern is about the appropriate scope of security
> clearance procedures. The security measures being implemented by
> the Department of Education may reach beyond what was originally
> intended under Presidential Directive HSPD-12, the key authority
> often cited by federal officials as extending security clearance
> procedures to contractors. Both the Directive and the Office of
> Management and Budget guidance for implementing the Directive focus

> on contractors who access federal facilities and critical
> information systems, not researchers who are engaged in primary
> data collection or use of these data in the field. We are seeking
> an interpretation from senior federal officials regarding the
> intended reach of the Presidential Directive and anticipate
> receiving clarification quite soon.
> Our fact gathering thus far indicates that security clearance
> procedures vary by agency. The National Science Foundation, for
> example, does not typically require security clearance screenings
> for contractors who collect data or prepare analytical products for

> the agency. At the National Institute of Justice, only those
> contractors who need access to federal buildings or information
> systems must generally undergo security clearances. Currently, the
> U.S. Department of Education*relying on Directive
> a security screening process for all contractors employed for 30
> days or more. Although, as noted above, this Directive is currently

> in the final stages of revision, Department officials have
> indicated that the changes are directed to clarifying the intent of

> the policy as it is currently being practiced*that is, that it
> covers all contracts.
> We remain concerned about the collection of credit information and
> fingerprints for researchers who work in the field and have no
> access to federal facilities or information systems. While we
> recognize and appreciate the renewed efforts of federal officials
> to provide the best protections possible for personally
> identifiable information collected by researchers*and indeed, we as
> an Association are continuously engaged in exercises and
> initiatives to improve privacy and confidentiality protections*the

> measures must be balanced and appropriate to the circumstances.
> In a post 9-11 world, there could be a reasoned need for those
> performing work for the federal government in federal facilities or

> on federal data bases to undergo security clearances at a level
> appropriate to the types of access. The issue of the
> appropriateness of security clearance procedures that are broader
> in scope ultimately hinges on whether there is a compelling basis
> to do so. The federal government has an interest in supporting
> research and attracting researchers*whether working under grants or
> contracts*of the highest quality and creativity. We take the view

> that any constraints need to be the minimum necessary to achieve
> legitimate goals. Thus, we await clarification of the scope of the
> security clearance requirements and the rationale underlying them.
> Our next steps depend on what we learn.
> For now, I want to keep you, our members, informed and to let you
> know that this topic*as a matter of sound research policy*is very
> much on the active agenda of staff and of strong interest to AERA
> Council and the AERA Government Relations (GR) Committee. Both
> Council and the GR Committee have this topic on their business
> agendas at the Annual Meeting. Meanwhile, please e-mail me if you
> have knowledge or experiences that we should be aware of as we
> continue to address the issue of security clearances for
> contractual research employees.
> I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago.
> Warm regards,
> Felice
> Felice J. Levine, PhD
> Executive Director
> We take your privacy very seriously.
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> Washington, DC 20036-3078
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David Preiss, Ph.D.
Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
Escuela de Psicología
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860
Macul, Santiago

Fono: 3544605
Fax: 3544844
web personal:
web institucional:

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Received on Fri Apr 6 20:54 PDT 2007

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