Background InvestigationsObtaining Security Clearance

OMB Boasts Clearance Processing Progress

In the May 26th edition of Washington Technology magazine, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) boasts that the average time to process a security clearance has dropped by 46%, from 250 days in 2005 to 136 days in 2008. You believe it?


  • Is this for federal employees, contractors, or both?
  • Is this for all clearances, or only final Secret clearances?
  • What does “process a security clearance” include? Filling out the forms? Investigation and adjudication time?

Comment Archive

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    I would assume that they look at both contractors and federal employees. Since, as far as I know, the only difference is the adjudication facility.

    From a security officer standpoint, I do believe that OPM is conducting faster investigations.

    I do not believe however, that their times include adjudication. Because of the decrease in investigation time and clearing of the majority of the backlog at OPM, CAF facilities are now the backlogged areas.

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    You make a very solid point. If you clear one backlog, another is more than likely created. It will be tough to strike a balance here, but at least everyone is moving in the right direction.

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    I know a person whom I work with just got an L clearance in six weeks. I know its not a Q but still 6 weeks is pretty darn fast.

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    All the readings so far seem to indicate that the investigation time has improved. Although it would be nice to hear from folks that have received their clearances to see the true picture. What’s reported by the OPM may not be accurate as the data might have been cherry picked. As for the adjudication, I tend to agree with Typical because my investigation closed more than 3 months ago and I’m still waiting. I heard there’s a big backlog at some CAF’s and it’s not getting any better. GAO reports cited average 30 – 60 days for adjudication, but I’ll only believe it when I get mine. Has anybody received clearance recently? Do you know long your “adjudication” took?

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    As a security officer I have seen for the past years, adjudications regularly take longer than 1 year from my CAF, two years isnt unheard of, and three years is rare but I’ve seen a few.

    From a numbers standpoint, the official public word from my CAF is that they employe ~100 ajdudicators and intake about 3000 cases per day and have an 11,000 case backlog.

    So that’s each adjudicator needs to do 30 cases per day just to keep up with the flow. Now take in account the annual leave of each employee, sick leave, annual training requirements, and the time it takes to read a case.

    To do 30 cases in an 8 hour day would mean to do 3.75 cases an hour. Case files are sometimes HUGE, I’ve seen the come in at anywhere from 20 pages for a very small to well over 200 pages.

    Do you trust someone to read your whole life story and make an accurate, life altering, make or break decision about your case at those rates? Esspeically if you have any form of potentially derogatory information?

    I know I would appreciate a quick decision, but also want some solid thought put into the whole person concept and the data before a decision is made.

    Thus, the backlog

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    Typical – Well put, and from a good perspective. The numbers game is what has always delayed this process.

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    What does CAF mean? Is it a DOD thing? Im in for a Q with DOE and im trying to figure out if there is a huge backlog or long wait or what.

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    Clearance Adjudication Facility. The DOE CAF is who you’d be waiting on, and I dont have any information about their backlogs, if any.

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    Seems to me, part of the problem is that agencies are not providing enough resources to make the process work.

    The only thing that is certain in the process is the fact that there are 24 hours in a day.

    1. Agency requests investigation. Type of investigation is determined by the position an individual will occupy.

    2. Investigative agency does their thing.

    3. Investigation is closed and sent to requesting agency for adjudication.

    4. Subject is notified of results.

    I don’t care what type of work you talk about. If management is more concerned about quantity over quality then mistakes will be made. Managers who can balance quantity and quality while keeping the costs under control without causing staff burn out are hard to find.

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    CAF stands for Central Adjudication Facility. DOE doesn’t have a CAF per se. They have regional adjudicative offices that adjudicate and grant clearances. If a clearance can not be granted by a regional office (because of significant derogatory information), the case is referred to their Headquarters Security Office for further consideration.

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    I bet I know where you work!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

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    I am in the military and in Iraq on a one year tour. I submitted my clearance back in January and still remain at an Interim Secret. In order for me to obtain a direct commission I need to have a secret clearance. I have tried to contact my unit to see what they can do with no help. Who can I contact in order to see what the hold up is on my adjudication process?

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    Is this for all clearances, or only final Secret clearances.