Obtaining Security Clearance

DISA Provides Small Business Owners Information on Security Clearance and FCL Processes

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) Small Business Office, which operates out of the U.S. Army base at Ft. Meade, MD., held an informational session last month for small businesses representatives to help them understand what the security clearance process entails and offered a view on current timelines and backlog numbers. Security professionals from both DISA and the Defense Security Service (DSS) Vetting Risk Operations Center (VROC) provided a broad overview of current processes that included these 2018 statistics:

– The VROC has processed over 220,000 e-QIP submissions thus far

– Initial Secret clearances are averaging about 18 months and Top Secret are averaging 15 months from start to finish

– 80,000 interim clearances were granted and are now getting processed within 20 days of e-QIP and fingerprint submission

That last bullet above on interim clearances is important because it allows contractors to begin work while the final clearance investigation is in progress. Many of the small businesses representatives attending also gained valuable insight on the Facility Clearance (FCL) process and learned that an FCL is not required to bid on a contract. If awarded, the Government Agency will sponsor the business for an FCL. However, in accordance with the contract Security Classification Form (DD-254), the company must be able to obtain a final FCL and provide contractors who are either already cleared or are able to obtain a clearance. DSS representatives emphasized they are there to provide expertise in assisting small businesses pursue opportunities.


  1. Marko, initial Secret clearances [18 months] are taking longer than Top Secret [15 months]? That doesn’t make any sense.

  2. That was the information put out. TS are prioritized over Secret because most applicants can get an interim Secret and work while the investigation is underway. I suspect the numbers are not accurate.

  3. …they never are…numbers are whatever you want them to be…