Incorporating Social Media into Federal Background Investigations
On May 13, 2016, the House Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Subcommittee on National Security held hearings on the recently published Security Executive Agent Directive 5, Collection, Use, and Retention of Publicly Available Social Media Information in Personnel Security Background Investigations and Adjudications. 

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The Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who is designated the Security Executive Agent for the Federal government on 12 May 2016, signed the Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 5. DNI news release External Link Icon.

Read the full SEAD 5 document. PDF icon

The National Counterintelligence Executive, William Evanina, testified at the hearing and wrote an Op-Ed titled Security Clearances in the Age of Social Media External Link Icon.

Listen to the full hearing External Link Icon on Incorporating Social Media into Federal Background Investigations.

The Congressional Subcommittee on Government Operations and Subcommittee on National Security website includes the video testimony and written statements  from Mr. William Evanina, Director of National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Ms. Beth Cobert, Acting Director U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and Mr. Tony Scott, U.S. Chief Information Officer U.S. Office of Management and Budgets.

As you have learned from the video testimony and documents, agencies with the authority to conduct background investigations "may choose to collect publicly available social media information in the personnel security background investigation process, which pertains to the covered individual's associations, behavior and conduct, as long as the information pertains to the adjudicative guidelines for making determinations of initial or continued eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position." However, before OPM implements the use of social media in background investigations, they intend to conduct a pilot program and establish the necessary process and procedures for its acquisition and usage.


Check back periodically to the Security Awareness Hub! As more information becomes available, CDSE will post updates.