Excerpted from a Washington Post story by Aaron Gregg

The federal government’s sluggish process for clearing workers to handle classified data is drawing new concern from government auditors, industry groups and at least one member of Congress, as an estimated 700,000 people wait for background checks to be completed.

The backlog has become so great that late last week, the Government Accountability Office took the highly unusual step of adding the effort to its list of “high-risk” programs, certifying that the process is in need of concerted action to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

“A high-quality and timely personnel security clearance process is essential to minimize the risks of unauthorized disclosures of classified information and to help ensure that information about individuals with criminal histories or other questionable behavior is identified and assessed,” U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro said in a release.

In its report, the agency said the backlog of unfinished clearance investigations is more than 700,000 people, up from about 550,000 at the end of 2016. The Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency charged with doing the background checks, is still without a permanent director more than a year into President Trump’s tenure. The GAO criticized OPM for failing to set long-term goals to address the backlog, saying “renewed and strong top leadership commitment” is needed to solve the problem.

You can read the full story here.