The federal government wants to identify future Edward Snowdens, Bradley Mannings, Harold Martins, and Reality Winners before they create national security risks.

To accomplish that, the Defense Department plans to add half a million security clearance holders to its continuous evaluation pilot program by Jan. 1.

More than 4.3 million government employees and military personnel have security clearances, according to a 2015 report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This addition brings to one million the number of clearance holders who are subject to continuous evaluation, according to Federal News Radio.

Continuously evaluating these clearance holders via 22 databases for the entire time they have access to classified information increases the chance of identifying an individual who is “doing something that perhaps they shouldn’t be doing” Defense Security ServicesDirector Daniel Payne said at a recent Association of Government Accountants’ internal control and fraud prevention training event.

According to, the categories of websites that are looked at during continuous evaluations include:

  • Social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Microblogging websites such as Twitter and StumbleUpon
  • Blogging sites
  • Photo- and video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr
  • Music streaming sites
  • Online commerce websites such as Amazon and eBay
  • Dating websites
  • Location-based social network sites such as Foursquare and Urbanspoon
  • News websites

Thanks to continuous evaluations, scans of Federal, DOD, and private sector data sources identified 48 people with issues that would not have been caught until their next reinvestigation was due, according to

The continuous evaluation process ultimately could replace the reinvestigation process.

It’s a process ripe for replacement. Currently, clearance holders who aren’t in the continuous evaluation pilot go through exhaustive investigations every five to 10 years. But so much can happen in that time frame. People may lose homes to foreclosure, develop an addiction or mental disorder, or engage in criminal activity. Someone who holds a security clearance today could become a threat tomorrow, long before their reinvestigation is due.

Routinely monitoring individual actions and behaviors such as the times staff arrive to work or the kind of work they typically do on a government network increases the potential of identifying and reviewing insider threats to see if additional action must be taken, Francis Taylor, the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, told GovTech Works in 2015.