Background Investigations

DCSA Reports Improvements in Security Clearance Processing

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) published the latest numbers for national security background investigation processing timeliness and showed a slight improvement from the last report released by the Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC) back in December 2019. According to DCSA, the average time to complete a Top Secret investigation is currently down to 79 days from a high of 411 days, meeting timeliness goals for the first time since June 2014. Timeliness for Secret investigations decreased from 173 days to 56 days. The investigation inventory stands at 205,000, which DCSA claims is their “steady state” capability. Understandably, the COVID-19 situation caused a slight increase in inventory due to challenges imposed by remote processing for applicants.

The report also acknowledged other PAC reform goals were off track and at risk in meeting the timelines for implementation. These goals related specifically to devising a shared repository of background investigation, adjudication, and security clearance information accessible by both DoD and other government agencies, thereby allowing security professionals to make faster verifications and reciprocity determinations on existing investigations. Currently the DoD doesn’t have access to the Central Verification System (CVS) used by most other Federal agencies. Other areas of security clearance reform behind schedule include guidance on standards for the denial or revocation of Federal credentials and guidance on standards for information sharing requirements for the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative. Bottom line up front, reform efforts seem to be working and clearance end to end processing is getting better.


  1. I would like to know what the start and stop points are for those timelines… I doubt very much that it starts when the applicant submits the eQIP and I doubt that the end date is when their security manager receives a notice in JPAS that the individual is eligible to be granted access.

    Take that 56 days for a secret… that’s two months… stick two weeks on both ends you get three months, and that’s a pretty fast secret timeline as measured by the person waiting to be cleared.

    (Actually I guess for the person waiting, six months still seems like an eternity :slight_smile: )

  2. I almost chocked on a cherry when saw the data.
    I think those numbers for cleannest possible candidates who didn’t “live” the life yet – with no car violations, perfect references, no foreign contacts, no overseas travels, credit score 750+, 4.0 GPA (do they consider GPA?), poly past from first attempt and etc. etc. etc.

  3. Submitted my paperwork in early March for a supposedly ‘priority’ TS. Just contacted the other day for my Subject Interview (so about 130 days later). No paperwork issues so far.

  4. Sometimes people with squeaky clean backgrounds take longer than folks who do have a couple issues. I think there can be a certain element of luck, like maybe your case ends up waiting in a queue somewhere while someone else’s gets assigned right away.

    And in a nod to our investigators, errors/omissions/falsehoods on the SF-86 will definitely slow things down.

  5. My guess it starts when eQIP shows that it was sent to “Investigative Provider” or in other words “”investigation opened date” and ends on “eligibility determined date”. The time frame imo is for the best “no issues” cases…

  6. Is this a back to the future thing? December 2020 hasn’t happened yet, right? Or has it?

  7. Gotta go backwards to go forwards. It’s the government way.

  8. It’s so crazy to me how different this process can be between applicants. I also submitted my paperwork in early march for a ts/sci, and just received my clearance a few days ago. Maybe they’ve made headway on your investigation and just saved the interview til the end?

  9. Congratulations on obtaining a clearance. I submitted my paperwork mid January. Probably doesn’t help that I have a few Foreign contacts and lived and worked multiple states.

  10. Here is just a personal observation from what I gather on this forum and from cases that have been previously adjudicated. I can see wait times or the length of the investigation move rather quickly if the person is highly sought after and has the STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) background.

    This is just based on what other successful applicants have stated in their timelines.