Background InvestigationsObtaining Security Clearance

DHS IG Report on Personnel Security Process

A May 2009 report, The DHS Personnel Security Process, issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated that:

“Department of Homeland Security personnel security offices are performing similar functions but use different policies throughout the personnel security process. Across the department, components strive to provide quality results in a timely manner but often are delayed by applicants, overwhelmed by customer service requests, restricted by database functions, and limited by information availability.”

The report made 20 recommendations to improve the Department of Homeland Security’s personnel security process, including some recommendations to consolidate security functions. As of November 2008 DHS was phasing in the use of a new department-wide web-based system to manage investigations and clearances to replace the 9 separate systems used by component agencies. Currently about half the components of DHS have authority to conduct their own clearance investigations. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Custom Enforcement contract for background investigations with several private companies. US Coast Guard and DHS Headquarters use a mix of investigative services provided by contractors and the Office of Personnel Management. The Secret Service uses internal investigative resources.

The report also contained investigative and adjudicative elapse times by departmental components. For 2008 average investigative times ranged from 30 to 96 days and average adjudicative times ranged from 17 to 147 days.

Related Article: DHS to Streamline Security Clearance Process

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    When I completed my DHS BI check last year for CBP the process to aproximately 3 months from start to finish. And that included the 4 hour interview with the investigator.

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    Did someone use the word “Streamline” and DHS in the same article 🙂

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    Got to love the BIPI!!!!

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    What does BIPI stand for. And is a SSBI compareable or worse than it?

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    It’s just an acronym DHS uses. It’s essentially a standardized list of questions. An SSBI is no worse.

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    How do you streamline a 3 hr interview?

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    Last question for the day :). Question 26 on the new SF-86 Investigating agency..for CBP do I put DHS and Clearance Code if I did not have a clearance put 0 for not required or 9 for other and state Public Trust postition below?


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    I was approved for CBP creds and one of the contractors I work for actually have them in hand. I don’t want to be trained because the compensation isn’t worth the extra time those cases take. No thanks!

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    Contract Inv

    Word on the street is CBP will soon be going to OPM method of investigations. Get those creds because alot of the CBP folks are not trained the OPM way and there will probably be quite a bit of work for you.

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    Once that happens I’ll take them. Until then, the compensation (not much additional) doesn’t seem worth it. If they raised the money I might be interested. I have friends/ colleagues who are trained who never wish they were. I think the record of the people I know was a 7 hour subject interview. Not fun for anyone.

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    My husband is 3 weeks away from graduating CBP and they just told him his background might not be cleared. One because they didnt know how his dad came into the united states 20 years ago, which he paid a fine and then they granted him his citizen ship and green card. Him and my husband have always had there us citizenship. And the second is my husband told the us navy 5 years ago he was in a room with a person who smoked pot. but he left right after that. He never ever used drugs, but because he said yes to that one thing 5 years ago he might be denied entry to his security clearence bringing us back to having no home or job. And not to mention we left the navy for his job and almost time for him to graduate they pull this. We are scared. He recived the letter and already wrote his resionings. ANd now we wait.. Is this something to worry about? Do you think he will still get his clearance?

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    For the first ten years of my Air Force I was working Intel. Then I decided to make a career move and become a Military Training Instructor at Lackland AFB TX, I lose my clearance because of my need to know is no longer there but it is hard to get the clearance back. And now that I’m retired after 21 yrs I will no be able to get any job. But all the information that I still have I’m not qualified to work or to have an investigation done to resent.

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    And now . . . according to a 15 June article in, “[DHS] agency leaders oobject to IG suggestions on how to improve the security clearance process.”

    In the same article a “consultant,” Bruce Schneier is quoted as saying, “The problem is that in the end, this system of security clearances doesn’t catch the bad guys. All the known spies have had security clearances. These little fixes don’t fix the problem.”

    Duh? I hope this consultant isn’t being paid with tax dollars. The recommended fixes are intended to improve the system so that good people can get clearances faster, not to catch spies.

    Furthermore, not all of the known spies had security clearances. Not counting the foreign intelligence officers in the US with diplomatic immunity who were quietly PNG’ed, some of the known spies were prosecuted under the ITAR or FARA rather than the espionage statutes, because they didn’t have security clearances and therefore no direct access to classified information.

    PERSEREC reported there were about 4 spy cases a year from 1975 to 2004 (including ITAR and FARA cases). There are about 3.2 million people with security clearances. So that means that less than thirteen-one hundred thousandths (0.00013%) of a percent of the cleared population are prosecuted for spying each year. And most of those people had no intention of becoming a spy until well after they received their clearance. Clearly, the initial clearance investigation was never the problem in screening out spies. If there is a problem, it involves the quality and frequency of the periodic reinvestigations.

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    I need to become a consultant. I could say things to scare government organizations with no proof to back up what I am saying and get paid a couple hundred thousand dollars to say it.

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    DUH!!!!!!!!! First off,an organized or a state sponsored spy would not be selected for how many arrests he/she had. I guess the whole point is to not draw attention to one’s self. If the CI world is doing their job, we are golden. The clearance process as we all know is but one layer in the game. There is no doubt this consultant was paid with tax dollars.

    You would be amazed on how many folks are out there, who have to date, not received their CI Poly’s but are continuing work–guess we need to lay off the investigators and address the true sources of the problems.

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    Don’t know if anything is changing out there but I was made to fill out a manual sf-86 for the FSO to check out and when I land in county they will have me fill out E-quip. Is this the norm or something new?

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    No big deal, alot of agencies have their own way of doing things. May be an internal deal.

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    Sounds good. The only problem would be the job is in Germany and I am in Florida. Just gotta watch the first step into a new job….sometimes they are big ones.

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    I’m betting they used it as a pre-screen before they spent the money to send you. My guess is, if your FSO gave the green light, you should be fine.

    Good luck, Germany is a great place

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    Yeah I spoke with an in-law in Germany also and basically that is what he said. FSO gives the interim, which I didn’t know, based off my paper SF-86 and I’ll fill out an E-quip when I get in place over there. Spent 2 years in Germany back while I was in the Army with the Patriot, great place and good beer.

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    Indeed. Also your battery’s were a great protector and allowed some of us to get some rest in more than a few places–thanks for your service.

    Ein Beer Bitte

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    You know us air defenders..”If it flies it dies” 🙂

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    Sam: A federal contractor’s FSO does not have the authority to grant an interim security clearance. Only a government agency can grant a clearance, whether interim or final. However, most contractor FSO are knowledgeable enough to know whether or not an applicant will receive an interim clearance based on a review of their SF86.

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    It is for DOD US Army civilian position

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    Sam: You’re right. The security manager at the Army agency/organization can grant an interim Secret clearance almost immediately. The rules require that a request for an investigation must be submitted before an interim Secret clearance is granted. I misunderstood you earlier because the term “FSO” is used for contractor security managers.

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    My mistake I thought the two were interchangeable…but I guess if you call a Security Manager a FSO they might get a little offended and vice versa.