AdjudicationBackground InvestigationsSecurity Clearance Process

Periodic Reinvestigation Deferment Process

Back in June of 2018 the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management issued a joint memorandum that outlined using a deferment process in background reinvestigations as one of the methods implemented to cut into the huge backlog. The Defense Security Service (DSS) Vetting Risk Operations Center (VROC) recently published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) cheat sheet that provides additional details and information to help security professionals and clearance holders navigate the ever-changing security clearance reform landscape. Here are some highlights:

–          A new SF-86 investigation request is still required 6 years from the closed date of the last investigation for Top Secret and 10 years for Secret. If the VROC reviews and defers the reinvestigation the clearance holder is immediately enrolled into continuous evaluation (CE). If the request is not deferred the reinvestigation is submitted and completed.

–          Continuous Evaluation enrollment can be confirmed by those with access to the Defense Information System for Security (DISS), which replaced JPAS, or by submitting an RRU/CSR to the VROC.

–          Special Access Program (SAP) guidance directs agencies to allow those with out-of-scope investigations to maintain eligibility for access if they are enrolled in CE.

It does appear deferring reinvestigation requests has helped knock down the backlog to about 498,000, according to the numbers reported by the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) last month. Continuous Evaluation (CE) appears to be the way forward and should help reduce the numbers even more once the transfer of responsibility from NBIB to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is complete. I have personally seen a vast improvement in processing times for all types of investigations, excluding a few outliers here and there. I anticipate focus will soon be shifted to the back end of the clearance process – adjudication timeliness.


  1. Is deferment and CE meant to stay or just exists in the meantime? And once enrolled in CE does the deferment cycle repeat itself again every 6 years (ie new SF-86, VROC defers and continues to monitor with CE)?

  2. It will morph in to a combination of CE and reinvestigation when needed.

  3. Gotcha, so CE unless deragotory info or a lot of changes happened in the last window (like I got married and changed houses a few times or something)?

  4. Any improvement is appreciated. 6 years ago my average time to clear Secret was 4 months. Now it is 12 months. It averages 18 to 24 months for TS with Poly. I feared they would use this as a shell game, and list fast closing dates for BI’s, but let packages wither in adjudication for a year plus. But if I can get processing times back down to 4 months on Secret, and if I could get the Holy Grail of TS at 6 to 8 months I would be a very happy camper.

  5. Will we still be required to submit an SF-86 under CE? I don’t have a clearance, but a background investigation that expires in 2022. So will I still have to submit an SF-86 in 2022?