A report from the University of Buckingham Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies and PCG, the professional association representing freelancers, has highlighted a serious market failure around the process of recruiting workers for security cleared Government roles.

At a time when Government spending is under intense pressure the report highlights a non-competitive market that leaves many top workers blocked from the roles they deserve in favour of those already with security clearance. This is a barrier to recruitment in contravention of guidelines which attach clearance to roles not people.

The closed shop mentality brings into question whether the right people are assisting the Government to move Britain forward, and PCG are calling for proper enforcement of regulations to ensure a level playing field and efficient use of taxpayers’ money.

Professor Anthony Glees, the author of the report, says:

“There have been a number of recent high profile security clearance failures and so it’s clear that the National Security system isn’t working – the wrong people are let in, the right people excluded – checks are not being made and we have no consistency. With PCG we have highlighted abuses in one sector that show the system either cannot cope or is not being implemented properly which if you apply across the whole process is a threat to our National Security.”

John Brazier, Managing Director of PCG, commented:

“Security Clearance should not only keep the wrong people out but get the right people in and we are not seeing this basic premise functioning currently. This is a catch 22 for some of the UK’s most qualified contractors who cannot get a post without clearance or get clearance without a post!

“The Government should be benefiting from the best expertise but instead are at the mercy of a closed market that is operating outside the Government guidelines. It is time for the policymakers to back up their guidelines and enforce a fair competitive market that ensures the country is paying for and benefiting from the best talent available.”

The report observed that the Cabinet Office guidelines are being flouted in order to speed up the recruitment process for Government and agencies. PCG believes abuse and corner cutting to get workers in fast should be monitored closely to ensure both agencies do not advertise in the wrong way and that the Security vetting system can cope with the demands of vetting Government staff.

John Brazier continued:

“We need to know the vetting system is effective and can cope with the flexible staff that take on Government roles. If it truly can then these abuses are completely avoidable. The fair and proper system currently in place is obviously not being respected because the rules around it are not being enforced – this is a vicious cycle that can only be addressed through establishing an independent forum to monitor the actions of agencies, clients and contractors themselves.”