System will launch next summer and will replace troubled NSVS system
A new technology platform aims to transform and improve the vetting process for public-sector staff and other workers in other regulated industries.
The digital system, which will be implemented next summer, “will simplify and join up the process to make it faster and more consistent”, according to government chief security officer Dominic Fortescue.
Its implementation – which was first trailed more than two years ago – comes after a 2018 National Audit Office report found that “inefficiencies” with the incumbent National Security Vetting Solution platform were costing government as much as £17m a year, and causing a severe backlog of cases.
Features of the new vetting platform will include a process through which users can submit feedback, with the government planning to “act on this feedback to drive improvements”.
There will also be a new complaints procedure allowing applicants to “raise any concerns they may have with the process with our United Kingdom Security Vetting organisation – or independently of it if they prefer,” said Fortescue.
The platform, which Fortescue said will make it “easier for people to apply for clearances”, is part of a wider three-year overhaul of the vetting process.
“When our transformation is complete, colleagues who need clearances should expect to start new roles sooner and colleagues with clearances who change jobs or employers should expect their transfer to happen seamlessly,” the security chief added.
The first step on this transformation programme is a “vetting charter” that sets out a series of commitments and expectations for candidates.
This includes a stipulation that the process will “treat [people] with dignity and be non-judgemental” and “provide a helpful, efficient, effective and transparent service”. The charter also pledges to respect privacy and act with professionalism, as well as only doing “what is reasonable in respect of delivering proportionate people risk management”.
For their part, candidates are asked to “be straightforward”, and “recognise that holding a security-cleared role brings responsibilities”. They will also be expected to keep records and provide information that is as accurate as possible.
The civil service, armed forces and the police require employees to complete the vetting process before taking on roles that need security clearance. Organisations in other security-regulated sectors may also require workers to undergo vetting.
The goal of transforming the process is to make it both more inclusive and more efficient, according to Fortescue.
“To increase inclusivity and participation in the process, we want to provide a vetting service which reflects how people live their lives in the 21st century, and welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply for security cleared roles,” he said.
“Over the next three years, we will deliver a faster, more efficient and more effective vetting service to get people into security roles more quickly. This will include more support for applicants going through vetting for the first time, the ability for clearance holders to move easily between organisations and closer alignment with HR and recruitment processes.”