How does one become a janitor at the Pentagon?

Obviously, places with ultra-high security clearance, such as the Capitol and White House, need housekeeping and other blue-collar staff. But just as obviously, one of the cliches of spy novels is how the janitor or maid steals the sensitive documents, or the cook slips the poison into the ambassador’s food.

So how do the staffing people get around this? Where do they go to fill these positions? And how the hell does one work up to emptying garbage cans around desks that contain information that could rock the free world? Do you go from private homes to hotels to black ops offices or something?

Practice, practice, practice.

I would imagine that the cleaning service is heavily bonded. That is to say that there is basically an insurance policy against the honesty of the company and it’s employees. The fact that the cleaning service can advertised that they are “Fully licensed and bonded” does mean alot, and I would imagine that it could be the difference in whether they get the contract or not.

As far as the staff seeing sensetive information on the desks, would they even know what it is? And further, the person who sits at the desk where such information could be found would surely face serious reprimand (if not outright termination or courtmartial among other penalties) for not securing his/her workspace.

They have to have security clearances, too. Also, classified info isn’t just left lying around on desks for someone to pick up. Another thing is, for a janitor type, a gov job is a gravy train, and not something they would mess with.

At StratCom they have security clearances. The contract is currently held by Goodwill Industries. There are a few retired military that work for them. Also, for the most part, the people that work in the offices clean them themselves. There are also these people called “Airmen”, “Privates” and “Seamen” that are often tasked to clean up, paint, move rocks, etc.
So basically:

They hire people with clearances or they make the young enlisted do it.

You don’t. Unless it’s your desk.

Apparently the CIA has blind people to clean stuff.

I work for the government and at my place of employment, in addition to ensuring that classified material is stored in a safe, all material being thrown in the trash must be run through a shredder.

Additionally, all housekeeping staff must obtain a security clearance.

When I leave my desk, I’m required to activate a screensaver on my computer that requires my password, and my office door is locked at all times when I’m not present.

When I worked at the Pentagon a few years ago, a lot of the low-level custodial work I saw done by people I saw were – I don’t know the current socially approved term, so I’ll just use the colloquialism – retarded. Obviously the supervisors weren’t but that does lower the probability that they were undercover spies. Whether or not that resulted from a conscious decision or was just the result of routine contracting policies, I can’t say, but it awfully convenient.

On the subject of classified information, in most places that use it, even inside the Pentagon, there are strict policies in place regarding it. Anything classified must be locked in an approved safe when not under the control of a cleared person, i.e. don’t walk away with something sitting on your desk unless somebody else takes responsibility for it. That sounds awfully formal, but it’s really just a normal, common-sense type of thing

Bill: “Hey Joe, I gotta go get a haircut, I’m leaving some classified out.”
   Joe: “Okay, I’ll be here.”

I don’t know from personal experience how it’s actually handled In the few locations that are approved for open storage – where it’s okay to leave classified documents sitting on your desk overnight, – but there are several options available.

As others have mentioned, there will be at least some cleared custodial staff. More likely, routine cleanup is done by the folks that work there, and once a week or so they lock everything classified in a safe so the janitors can come in for a thorough cleanup.

Story I heard once in the Pentagon…

Several Pentagon offices shared a small kitchen where they had coffee pots and a fridge. One day a young private is in the kitchen fetching coffee for some people in his office, when a two-star general comes in. Obviously nervous with the general there, the private slips and spills some coffee. The general smiles and says “Don’t worry son, I’m the lowest ranking one in my offfice too,”