Americans with Access to Classified Information Nears 5 Million

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More people than ever are privy to government secrets in Washington.


Based on the latest data published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the number of individuals cleared for access to classified information was more than 4.9 million last year. This total represents a sizeable increase from a similar report issued in 2010 by ODNI that said the number was 4.2 million.


Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News noted that in 2012 the number of contractors with a security clearance declined, while the total of government employees grew at a faster rate, yielding a net increase of 54,199 clearances, or 1.1%, compared to the previous year.


While there may have been a larger number of people with security clearances during the Cold War, no thorough accounting of U.S. government security clearances had been produced until 2010. The current figure represents the third time such a statistic has been published.


In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that there were 2.4 million people with security clearances, but that figure was under-reported by 50% due to the exclusion of intelligence agency personnel. In 1995, the GAO issued a report that provided an estimate of 3.2 million security-cleared federal employees as of 1993.


The ODNI report also noted denials of security clearance applications. In that regard, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) denied 5.9% of such applications, the National Security Agency (NSA) denied 5.7%, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) denied 4.9%.


The report based its figures on calculating the number of people who have been investigated and deemed eligible for being issued a clearance, not those who have in fact been given access to classified or secret data.

-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Number of Security Cleared Personnel Grew in 2012 (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)

2012 Report on Security Clearance Determinations (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) (pdf)

More than 4 Million Americans Have Access to Classified Information, Including 1 Million Contractors (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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