Government chief security officer Dominic Fortescue has launched a three-year programme to bring the vetting process for security regulated staff “into the 21st Century” and enable civil servants to change jobs that require clearance more quickly.
Fortescue said the plan would “completely reimagine” the process that departmental staff, armed forces personnel and others need to complete for security-cleared roles – and involve the rollout of a new technology platform for applications next summer.
A 2018 report from the National Audit Office suggested that shortcomings with the vetting processes for civil servants, contractors and military personnel had resulted in a backlog of open cases that caused inefficiencies that cost departments millions of pounds a year.
Fortescue said that when the Vetting Transformation Programme was complete, colleagues who needed clearances “should expect to start new roles sooner” while those with clearances who changed jobs or employers “should expect their transfer to happen seamlessly”.
He said one of the first steps in the programme would be to publish a new vetting charter that emphasised the government’s commitment to make vetting as transparent as possible and to support everyone who needed to be vetted and hold a security clearance.
“People are our greatest asset and we see protecting national security as a partnership,” Fortescue said.
“To increase inclusivity and participation in the process, we want to provide a vetting service which reflects how people live their lives in the 21st century, and welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply for security cleared roles.”
Fortescue said that by the end of 2023 the programme will have provided a more efficient and more effective vetting service to get people into security-cleared roles more quickly.
“This will include more support for applicants going through vetting for the first time, the ability for clearance holders to move easily between organisations and closer alignment with HR and recruitment processes,” he said.
“Ensuring that vetting enables the civil service to be an inclusive employer of all talents will be a top priority. We will continue to work closely with the civil service’s affinity groups to achieve this.”