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Concerns about the national system of security clearance for IT contractors has been raised by REC, who are now looking into how the guidelines impact temporary workers in the IT industry.

Following an unsuccessful petition to overturn the rules by an IT contractor fed up with security clearance rules for public sector roles, and a campaign led by contractor body PCG looking for clarity, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation now believes further investigations are required.

The REC, with member input, will establish whether the system is following the security clearance guidelines. These guidelines were revised by officials in March when the Cabinet Office admitted that they were failing to secure the best value from individual IT contractors and other security-cleared staff it requires for the state’s most sensitive projects.

The review will also look at the views of IT contractors themselves, who often complain that they are denied from being put forward for roles because of lack of clearance, or clearance for a lower level environment. The issue that has arisen is known as the sector’s ‘Catch 22,’ which means that IT contractors cannot obtain work without the appropriate, valid security clearance but cannot obtain this clearance without work.

The Cabinet Office have stated that this shouldn’t happen as a job candidate should not be expected to hold a valid security clearance to apply for a sensitive post, other than in “exceptional circumstances.” However, due to budgetary pressure on government end-users, alongside time constraints on the projects they are recruiting for, they often select IT contractors with existing clearance over those without it, regardless of candidate skills or their value-for-money.

Hopefully other problems with security clearance for IT Contractors are also likely be addressed in the REC review.


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