NISPPAC Report Shows Top Secret Clearance Reinvestigation Times Increasing
On August 3, 2011 the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) report for March 2011 was posted at their website. NISPPAC is made up of representatives from Government and industry and meets two to three times a year. Meetings usually include presentations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) on industrial security clearance processing metrics. The March meeting also included a presentation by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on the activities of the Joint Suitability and Security Clearance Reform Team…
Overall there were no surprises in the report, but some interesting trends and anomalies were apparent. Since last year end-to-end processing time for Top Secret (TS) Periodic Reinvestigations (PR) has been increasing, but DISCO’s inventory of TSPRs pending adjudication dropped from a high of 4,372 in September 2010 to a miniscule 266 in February 2011. Defense Security Service (DSS) officials could provide no explanation. OPM might have temporarily slowed down their processing of TSPRs in December and January to catch up on initial clearance investigations. Timeliness of TSPRs is sometimes sacrificed when it’s necessary to reduce turnaround time on initial clearances. Since 3rd Quarter FY2009 the number of Phased PRs has declined significantly, but the number Phased PRs converted to SSBI-PRs remained about the same, indicating that unlisted security issues surfaced in a much higher percentage of Phased PRs. DISCO’s total inventory of cases pending adjudication declined from a high of 18,727 in October 2010 to 10,757 in February 2011—a significant accomplishment during a time of diminishing personnel resources caused by the Base Realignment And Closure process.
In an interesting comment on eAdjudication, the Director of DSS stated that the eAdjudication process [at other DOD Central Adjudication Facilities] handles 28–34 percent of investigations for Secret clearances; whereas, only 4 percent of Industrial cases are adjudicated electronically.
Among other things the ODNI presentation addressed the revision of the Federal Investigative Standards for suitability and security clearances. In December 2008 a 3-tier structure for investigations was approved, but has apparently been abandoned in favor of a 5-tier structure. Five tiers currently exist, but the investigative components of each tier will probably be different in the future. NISPPAC meetings are open to the public, but for some reason the ODNI presentation was marked “For Official Use Only” and there was no indication that any information was redacted.