Security Clearance Process

Decline in the Number of Security Clearances

A recently released report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) showed that the number of new security clearances and reinvestigations for existing clearances granted has decreased by 9 percent since 2011. The report suggested that this decline is due to a delayed effort to comply with a Clinton Administration executive order, resulting in a more stringent review by all Federal agencies in assessing their cleared populations and determining whether a clearance is actually needed for the duties performed. A secondary reason for the decline may be most agencies having smaller budgets across the board and conducting investigations and reinvestigations is considered cost prohibitive.

Many non-DoD or Intelligence Community agencies with a cleared population are also being mandated to conduct clearance reviews to determine whether or not the need is justified instead of granting a clearance as a convenience for future access. Increased scrutiny by congressional oversight committees caused by recent events involving Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and Aaron Alexis has resulted in calls for security clearance reform, updated continuous evaluation processes, and an increased denial of clearances by DoD and Intelligence Community agencies. Amid all of these changes and turmoil, background investigators and adjudicators still processed the approximately half a million new clearance investigations submitted in 2013.