What is Security Clearance?

Some Government roles require security clearance - a set of checks to confirm the identity of individuals (employees and contractors) and provide a level of assurance as to their trustworthiness, integrity and reliability.

What’s the problem?

It is government policy that individuals should not be expected to hold an existing security clearance in order to apply for posts or contracts that require vetting. However many have complained that the policy is being ignored.

Freelancers without previous Government experience can find it very difficult to obtain security clearance, leading to a Catch-22 situation.

Recruitment of pre-cleared contractors artificially limits the talent pool, costs the Government money and hinders its procurement processes.

What is IPSE doing about it?

In order to address this issue, IPSE (then PCG) called for the formation of the Security Clearance Forum, to bring together relevant Government officials and affected stakeholders.

The Security Clearance Forum

The IPSE Security Clearance Forum monitors compliance with Government guidance on vetting procedures.  It was set up in association with the Cabinet Office as a result of a 2011 report by Professor Anthony Glees. 

The Security Clearance Forum brings together the Cabinet Office, recruitment agencies, contractors and other stakeholders under an independent Chair. The role of the Forum is to review how well all the relevant parties are performing and monitor whether adherence to the Government guidelines can be confirmed. Its aim is to embed best practice, facilitate communications between all parties involved and to develop targeted solutions where called for.

Its current membership includes representatives from the Cabinet Office, IPSE, the Ministry of Defence National Security Vetting Organisation, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), and Securityclearedjobs.com.

The terms of reference for the Forum are as follows:

To review current performance of prime and sub-contractors and the recruitment industry in adhering to national security vetting guidelines and to encourage meaningful change through which real improvements in practice could be achieved. To advise the Cabinet Office and help it address the following issues:

  • Improving client understanding of vetting requirements, including appropriate levels of clearance and use of contractors awaiting clearance
  • Improving Cabinet Office communications with stakeholders regarding the adherence of end users to Cabinet Office guidelines
  • Driving better compliance with the current guidelines
  • Developing a code of practice in which vetting requirements could be enshrined, including the possible development of a kite mark for agencies that meet those requirements.
  • Identifying and agreeing measures of success against which to judge improvements

In October 2014, the Security Clearance Forum worked with the Cabinet Office to produce a Code of Practice to reinforce Government vetting guidelines: