January 9, 2020 aartiksmith

SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 Helping Ensure a Trusted Workforce

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What are SEAD 3 and SEAD 6?

On September 29, 2016, the Executive Order 13467 was amended by then-President Obama, and among its various mandates was the establishment of the ODNI as the Security Executive Agent (SecEA) governing security policies for the Intelligence Community, in particularly, but across the entire federal government, as well.

Based on the ODNI’s authority as SecEA, it has released several substantial policies related to the personnel security program. Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 3 was signed into policy on December 14, 2016 and established a common adjudicative criteria and reporting requirements for all covered personnel with access to classified information and individuals operating in sensitive positions. Covered individuals are required to report any planned and actual involvement in certain activities prior to participation or otherwise as soon as possible following the start of their involvement. Heads of government agencies and organizations conduct an analysis of such reported activities to determine whether they pose a potential threat to national security and if so, take appropriate action. The activities that warrant reporting include foreign travel, foreign contacts, reportable actions by others, foreign activities, and other reportable activities such as arrest, bankruptcy, alcohol and drug related treatment, efforts to obtain classified information, and more.

SEAD 3 enforces personnel self-reporting of activities that may impact positions of national security and SEAD 6 enforces continuous automated record checks of covered individuals.

Effective January 12, 2018, SEAD 6 established the authority for the Continuous Evaluation of cleared employees, which has now been implemented across more than a third of security clearance holders and will quickly achieve inclusion of the entire workforce. Continuous Evaluation is a “personnel security investigative process to review the background of a covered individual who has been determined to be eligible for access to classified information or to hold a sensitive position at any time during the period of eligibility.” Continuous evaluation utilizes a set of automated record checks and business rules, to support the ongoing assessment of an individual’s continued eligibility. The automated record checks consist of checks of commercial databases, US Government databases, and other information lawfully available to security officials at any time during the period of eligibility. Information gathered by Continuous Evaluation is shared with sponsoring agencies and analyzed for adjudicative relevance and need for further investigation and/or adjudication. 

Why is this information important to the Government?

To properly and accurately ensure an entrusted workforce, government agencies need to effectively and frequently vet their staff and conclude the safety of their physical and logical assets. SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 directives mandate government agencies to carry out this vetting and collect all the necessary information to help them assess continued eligibility for personnel in their designated positions.  The information collected as a result of implementing SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 helps agencies safeguard National security information, minimize or eliminate insider threats, instill appropriate security, and apply any counterintelligence prevention controls.  Awareness of personnel activities that can influence the positions of covered personnel is critical to ensuring a present and future trusted workforce.

We need to continuously protect national security information and ensure all authorized personnel continue to be entrusted.

What challenges do agencies encounter upon receipt of SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 data?

Most agencies have electronic systems to capture SEAD 3 information today. The degree of sophistication may vary, but the information is captured in spreadsheets or simple databases. Agencies struggling to adopt SEAD 3 are still using paper forms or forgoing the entire process all together. Getting personnel to report on their activity is an insurmountable challenge.  Take the example of foreign travel.  How many of us travel to Europe during summer vacations? Do we report that to our agency leadership? How many people might have personal challenges with mental health and be embarrassed or worried about declaring such issues? Criminal conduct is rarely reported due to fear of job loss. There is so much stigma around informing officials of any questionable activity, that it goes unreported.  So, agencies must change their attitudes and encourage reporting without penalties.  Agencies must advocate for transparency and offer remediation and support solutions to help personnel retain their positions.

Agencies struggle to encourage and maintain personnel self-reporting. Agencies are not equipped to handle the influx of data from SEAD 6 and assess the information received in a timely manner, allowing potential vulnerabilities to go unnoticed or unresolved. 

SEAD 6 introduces the challenge of intercepting and assessing information or data in large quantities.  Currently, only one third of government personnel are included in the Continuous Evaluation program. Once all personnel have been incorporated, the amount of data collected and disseminated to agencies will be overwhelming and agencies are not equipped with enough humans able to handle this data in a timely manner.  If Continuous Evaluation data indicates infractions or inappropriate conduct and/or activities, agencies may not be adequately staffed to handle this data and assess it in a timely manner, leading to vulnerabilities for the agency. The chart below confirms the rise in personnel enrolling in the new DOD Continuous Evaluation Program.  As more and more agencies get onboarded and eventually reach a level where all federal employees and contractors are enrolled, the data will be flowing with force, but will your agency be ready to process it?

What is Chainbridge Solutions doing to help our Government?

Chainbridge Solutions is partnering with agency Personnel Security (PERSEC) organizations to design and develop smart case management systems that allow personnel to access a simple and easily accessible portal to enter SEAD 3 information. Our solutions ease the burden of data entry by anticipating what personnel might report.  We add types of activities, places of potential travel, reasons for travel, potential criminal conduct types, common mental health issues, common drug abuse activities, common financial incidents, and a broad spectrum of potential reportable activities that can be performed by covered individuals.  Our solutions are flexible enough to allow personnel to modify and customize descriptions, categories, and other relevant details.

Chainbridge Solutions has designed solutions to intercept SEAD 6 data and provide automatic matching of Continuous Evaluation results to their respective, corresponding person of interest and case. So, for example, when a DUI report is received via the Continuous Evaluation automated record check, the event is automatically flagged to the individual, arrest reports are ingested and attached to the personnel file, and supervisors are alerted to intervene and speak to the individual about the event.  The goal is to catch issues early and address them, remediate, and allow individuals to seek help.  With the use of our solutions, agencies no longer have the burden of intercepting Continuous Evaluation results, assessing them, matching files with the right personnel, and starting the assessment/support process.  Agencies are able to address any questionable activity early and hopefully intervene before tragedy occurs.

Our solutions are also able to identify disparity in SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 reporting. For instance, if someone is traveling to Russia twice a year, as systematically reported via SEAD 6; however, via the self-reporting under SEAD 3 includes travel to Bahamas instead, our solutions send alerts to designated supervisors to investigate the mismatch of information. 

Chainbridge Solutions is leveraging smart technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to further supplement human efforts and help identify trends or patterns in personnel activities and raise the appropriate flags when necessary.  Using machine learning, we predict the need and likelihood of escalation as well as automatically suggest remediation strategies.  With RPA, our solutions are able to automate mundane tasks such as filling out forms or facilitating the paperwork to initiate and authorize support, therapy, and other actions to support personnel.

By building solutions that capture SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 information electronically, Chainbridge Solutions is reducing the burden on PERSEC organizations to keep up with collecting and assessing this information.  We are able to highlight activities or individuals that require PERSEC staff attention and give them peace of mind regarding the majority of their personnel with non-threatening activities.  

Chainbridge Solutions helps agencies use technology to leverage SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 data to ensure a trusted workforce and act quickly when vulnerabilities exist.

What can the Government do to prepare for SEAD 6?

Government agencies can begin preparing for SEAD 6 by taking the following actions:

  • Implement Personnel Security Case Management System to electronically intercept automated record check data;
  • Ensure PERSEC case management system implemented with ability to interface with many external data systems;
  • Know where the gaps exist in legacy data and take the time to cleanse dirty data;
  • Establish internal agency policy on which activities warrant raising flags and how escalation should be handled;
  • Promote remediation activities for infractions or transgressions; and
  • Establish a culture of transparency and trust through open communications and cross-organization collaboration.

Want to know more?

If you want to learn more about collecting and understanding SEAD 3 and SEAD 6 data and how to protect your agency from bad actors, please reach out to us via info@chainbridgesolutions.com for more information, schedule a demonstrations, and to speak with our PERSEC and supporting technology Subject Matter Experts.