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The Department of Navy (DON) would like to know if inequities in security clearance outcomes exist for protected classes. If they do, these inequities could affect DON’s ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. In this report, we examine racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in security outcomes to ensure that DON’s Personnel Security Program is operating as intended—without disparate impact on racial/ethnic minorities and women. We focus on five personnel security outcomes: receipt of a statement of reasons (indicating intent to deny or revoke clearance), an eligibility determination (favorable, neutral, or unfavorable determination), a local access suspension, a security incident report, or any of these negative actions. We did not detect any conclusive racial, ethnic, or gender differences in personnel security outcomes using demographic and proxy ethnicity (e.g., birth country region) predictors. We posit that the lack of identifiable relationships could be due to highly standardized vetting processes, which are predominantly blind and always subject to significant legal review. We recommend additional analyses examining this research question (a) in the DoD-wide personnel security population and (b) across more nuanced vetting outcomes. This deeper-dive research should consider whether protected classes are more prone to certain adjudicative issues (e.g., criminal disqualifications reflecting criminal justice system bias) or whether their cases take longer to complete. These issues remain problematic for personnel even when outcomes such as final eligibility determinations are ultimately favorable.
Fielding Year: 2023
Topic: Adjudicative Determinations
Produced By: PERSEREC
Document Type: Report
Product ID: TR-23-01, 2023-048