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The impact of the Navy Yard shooting, combined with the fallout from lapses at the National Security Agency that enabled Edward Snowden to pilfer thousands of documents, could result in tighter restrictions on contractors, industry observers and recruiters say. Lucrative contracts can be tied up by extensive security clearance reviews and it can be more expensive to do business, increasing costs not only for contractors but also for taxpayers funding technology projects.
Smaller IT providers already have a difficult time landing government contract work, said Jeff Snyder, president of SecurityRecruiter.com, a job placement firm for network and IT security professionals. Executives typically have to have connections inside the Beltway, Snyder said.
Security professionals with government clearances typically end up working at Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and other defense contractors, Snyder said.
"If you have a means to get a clearance and you go down that path, the jobs are plentiful," Snyder said.
A Washington, D.C.-based security expert with strong ties to federal agencies, who declined to be named, said security restrictions are already very high for law enforcement and people involved with intelligence gathering. The government relies heavily on IT contractors because it can't fill all the needed cybersecurity and other technology jobs, he said.
A Department of Defense employee told CRN that obtaining a general clearance to gain access to a base for a specific project is not very difficult to acquire. The extent of the process is based on the level of clearance; references are obtained, and those seeking clearance are required to fill out an extensive questionnaire for national security positions. Clearance provides permission to access resources specific to the project under contract, the employee told CRN. Restricted information is kept on a need-to-know basis.
The 30-year government IT executive said his firm and others are diligent in reviewing everything from background checks and references and rely heavily on government security procedures.
"I don't know how much more we can do," he said. "When the government provides a clearance, we assume the government has done its job. There is nothing more we can do short of hiring a private investigator to look at an employee, which from a financial standpoint is impossible."