Newly-hired Secret Service officers have been posted to sensitive roles — including at the White House — without completing national security background checks.
Amid a backlog in the wake of recent security lapses, up to five dozen agents were placed in such positions before recruiters had finished the entire verification process, officials told NBC News.
However, the Secret Service said Wednesday that checks would be completed on all new officers by the end of this week.
A recruitment push began after prominent security breaches last fall forced the resignation of the former Secret Service director, Julia Pierson. President Barack Obama appointed Joseph Clancy as her replacement earlier this year.
On Sept. 19, a man with a knife jumped the White House fence, raced across the lawn, entered the building and made it as far as the East Room before he was tackled, and only then by an off-duty agent.
Three days later, an armed security contractor with an assault record got into an Atlanta elevator with Obama, began recording video of Obama on his cellphone and did not stop when agents told him to.
Clancy was made aware last week that the verification process had not been completed for some officers, agency spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement.
“The director has taken immediate steps to accelerate the Top Secret adjudication process and has allocated additional resources to ensure that this is completed as quickly as possible,” the statement said. “It is anticipated that the adjudication process … will be completed by the end of this week.”
The statement added that most of the security checks on the new agents, including a criminal history review and “a full scope polygraph examination,” had already been completed.