Mounting security vetting backlog poses risk

May 17, 2023


MPs have warned the department tasked with vetting has overseen a mounting case backlog posing a risk to national security and the “functioning of government”.

The running of the UK Security Vetting (UKSV) was taken on by the Cabinet Office three years ago.

The Cabinet Office has control over access to government information, including all top secret files.

According to a report in the Financial Times said the warning comes at a time of “growing public frustration with backlogs building up across many public institutions from the NHS, the Passport Office, to the processing of asylum seekers”.

It also coincides with increasing calls, including from within the ruling Conservative party, for the resignation of Simon Case, who leads the department, after a tumultuous period for the civil service.

Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office had proved an impediment to reform at the UKSV according to the cross-party parliamentary public accounts committee, which scrutinises government spending.

It concluded the department was “creating a risk environment many users across government are uncomfortable with”.

The committee heard the UKSV had been understaffed since it wqas formed six years ago.

Committee chairman Dame Meg Hillier MP said: “The Cabinet Office appears deaf to the discomfort that staff across government have with the level of risk being created by its failure to get a grip on our national security vetting services.”

A report said the UKSV had failed to meet key targets since July 2021 for top level vetting.

“This is all totally unacceptable. We expect the Cabinet Office to set out and immediately get on with productive change in response to this report,” Hillier said.


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