Security Clearance Process

Congressional Report on Clearance Reform

On 20 November 2008 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued House Report 110-916, “Security Clearance Reform—Upgrading the Gateway to the National Security Community.” The report measured the government’s compliance with the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) in the following seven areas:

  1. Centralization of policy oversight and management: Actions have been taken, but progress has been mixed.
  2. Single agency for investigations: The requirement has been partially met.
  3. Interagency reciprocity: The standard set forth by IRTPA has not been met.
  4. Integrated, secure database: The requirement has not been met.
  5. Evaluate the use of available technologies: This requirement has been met.
  6. Reduce the length of the clearance process: The interim standards for timeliness that were to have been met by December 2006 were met on average across all the agencies processing security clearances.
  7. Reporting: The Administration has met the requirements for annual reports required by IRTPA’s Secton 3001(h).

The overall tone of the report was critical, stating that “progress over the past five years has been disappointing.” Even in the areas where the Administration was found to have met the IRTPA requirements, the report complained of missed deadlines and creative interpretation of IRTPA wording.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    The best part about this report was that “The Subcommittee intends to consider legislation early in the 111th Congress that would spur security clearance reform by requiring agencies to report to Congress on key metrics of the security clearance process.” In the past OPM and OMB have rarely used the same method of quantifying their progress in two successive reports, making it very difficult to compare reports.

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    Mr Henderson,

    Hopefully somewhere in those metrics it will show how overworked many inv’s are. The numbers we have to hit these days are slowly getting unreasonable and unattainable depending on your part of the country. Stats are stats no matter if you are in a non-metropolitan area where you have to travel at least 50-60 miles to start your day or in D.C where stats can be hit in 2 days if you work.

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    I feel your pain. When I started out the norm was 10 leads a day with police record checks or 8 a day without. Subject interviews were counted as 3 leads. By the time I left the norm was 5 leads with some adjustment for Subject Interviews and law checks regardless of the characteristics of your AO. Somewhere in the middle during the time I was a supervisor, some sanity was injected into system. My boss rated me on what he expected my office to do if we were fulled staffed, and I used 4 different standards for my subordinates depending on their individual AOs. If everyone did what they were suppose to do, the office met or exceeded its goals.

    The lead count was significantly lower when I left because all the first-line supervisors were eliminated and with them most of the clerical support. The administrative stuff that the clerk and supervisor did was shifted to the field investigators, plus the OPM system for scheduling leads to other office and generally managing cases was so much more cludgey and time consuming than the DSS system. Previously the case analysts at DSS actually did most of the case management, unlike OPM who expected the investigator tasked with the PRSI to do all the case management without allowing them access other investigator’s reports.

    IMHO the whole system of field management stinks. I can only hope that whatever replaces PIPS is designed with the field investigators in mind and not for the convenience of the headquarter’s REMFs.

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    BW & Mr. H.,
    I am not sure how you do it BW but Months of Coverage (MOC) is how our production is measured. Each Business Unit for casts how much MOC they will complete each month. These MOC goals then trickle down to the disrtictn then the org and then to each investigator. For the most part Sr. Inv like myself have to hit 800 MOC each month. That was no problem when there was a backlog of cases. Iwould get about 900 to 1000 MOC scheduled to me at the beginning of the month. But now that we are caught up and there is no backlog cases are assigned to me through out the month and sometimes I might have a week or 10 days to complete 500 MOC because the cases were not assigned to me until the middle or toward the end of the month because OPM did not assign the cases to our company until then. Very stressful.

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    We use items per month, which carry point totals. Only problem is a record is only 1/2 point and some records are a looooong way from me. As a Sr I am expected 80 items minimum, which as you know–turns into over 100 items once I start working the cases. I’m not sure where these stats originate from, but I do know it is getting increasingly harder as I have to sometimes drive 300-400 miles per day on some cases. Being in the midwest has advantages (More Friendly–Know what I mean). By the way–WOW, I went to that job vent and had a look!!!!!!!!!

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    Mr Henderson,

    You hit the nail on the head. If we had admin rights to look and adjust accordingly, we could no doubt finish things more wuickly. If the trend stays the same, it will be awfully hard to continue to field quality investigators.

  7. Avatar

    Records for us are .5 MOC, sources are 1 MOC and PRSI/SPINS are 4 MOC. Fortunately I do not have to drive as far as you do. The most I travel in a day is 200 to 250 miles.

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    BW & Investigator:
    I think there are great changes coming next year for field investigators. A little more than 2 years ago I was asked for my opinion on a “convertible tablet computer” for use by field investigators. The one that was used in the demo was an IBM Thinkpad (similar to a Lenovo X61) with a reversable touch screen. The idea was that all case papers could be downloaded to the tablet computer, eliminating the need for paper files. A program will allow the investigator to batch (and rebatch) cases by work location, neighborhood, school, etc. Each case can be displayed on the screen with lots of tabs and windows for different sources and space for using a stylus to write information into fields (name, occupation, address, first & last contact, frequency, narrative text, notes, etc.). The text recognition software was pretty good; it even read my awful handwriting and accurately converted it to typed text. When a case is finished, everything the investigator wrote while (or just after) doing an interview can be imported into a report form. The only thing I didn’t like was the researcher’s idea that an investigator would conduct a Subject Interview using a checklist displayed on the computer screen.

    At the time of my interview with the researcher, he hadn’t gotten to the part regarding the investigator’s access to case information on the mainframe.

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    Mr Henderson,

    Doesn’t sound too bad. I don’t like the sound of a PRSI Checklist. All other interviews would be OK. Was there any indication how notes would be tracked and kept? I wish I could see the future on this business, so I could decide whether or not to remain.

  10. Avatar

    The PRSI checklist isn’t as bad as it sounds, since an investigator can use or not use the different features of the program as they choose. I don’t remember exactly how the “notes” fields were maintained in each case file, but I remember that the program was very flexible and data could be accessed and moved around easily.

  11. Avatar

    Is there supposed to be a new web-based version of the SF-86 coming out sometime in the near future? Anyone know when we will switch to the new web-based? Will it be similar to the new version of the SF-86 that came out pretty recently or something totally different?

  12. Avatar


    All DoD agencies have been using a web based form of the SF-86 for a few years now.

    I’ve seen some portions of agencies request a papercopy for their review. I know that the Army process for applying for Defense Attache duties as well as other special assignments requires a papercopy of the SF-86 to be filled out so they can do a suitability like review of it and to predict if they can expect future problems if they proceed with your application.

    I’m unsure of other agencies, but OPM has the system in place called EQip