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Wexton Amendment to Support Servicemembers’ Transition Into Intelligence Workforce Passed Into NDAA Bill

Today, the House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), which would support military intelligence members as they transition into the public sector. Final passage of the NDAA will be voted on tomorrow afternoon. The amendment directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the feasibility of establishing a pilot program in the Department of Defense under which members of the military with an active top secret security clearance working in counterintelligence can be provided an opportunity to obtain additional security clearance credentials upon their separation from service in order to work for, or in support of, federal intelligence agencies.

“Many of the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces are not done serving this country once they’ve put away their uniforms, ” said Congresswoman Wexton. “Servicemembers of all ranks, including some who have served for decades, are doing important work in cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, and other critical need areas for our intelligence agencies. Upon completing their service,  these veterans have the skills and training that our national security intelligence agencies need. We must make it easier for these veterans to continue to utilize their talents to protect our nation beyond their military service.”

Currently, the wait-time to transition a security clearance can be over a year, and many service members in the intelligence community may be forced to consider taking a lower-paying job after they transition out of the military and while they wait for the process to move forward. Additionally, we risk losing these individuals entirely if they take jobs in the private sector outside of the intelligence community. 

Congresswoman Wexton’s amendment would require the GAO to examine the feasibility of establishing a pilot program to provide the opportunity for qualified service members to obtain the necessary level of security clearance prior to beginning work in the intelligence community, conditional on an offer of employment. The report would also identify cost-sharing opportunities to fund the program, the impacts on workforce diversity in the intelligence community, and how such a program may affect retention in defense intelligence roles.

Fellow Virginian, Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA) expressed strong support for Congresswoman Wexton’s amendment, “As an Air Force Veteran and former Department of Defense contractor, I know the challenges faced by our servicemembers when they transition from active duty into the intelligence workforce. It is important for us as a country to make this process as streamlined as possible and this amendment will help with that mission. I am proud to support Rep. Wexton’s amendment and give this program my full endorsement.”

WATCH: Congresswoman Wexton speaks on the House floor in support of her amendment.

The full text of the amendment can be found here