Security Clearance Process

Report to Congress Shows DISCO Lost Ground in 2010

The “Annual Report to Congress on Personnel Security Investigations for Industry and the National Industrial Security Program” for fiscal year 2010 is one of the more useful periodic reports containing data on security clearance processing.  Produced by the Defense Security Service, it is the only report that provides any information about interim clearances and one of the few that provides raw numbers.

Understanding the numbers can be a little tricky.  For example, you can’t simply divide the number of interim clearances granted by the number of final clearance to determine the percentage of cases that received interim clearances, because:

  • Applicants drop out of the process before a final clearance decision is made on their cases.
  • Interim clearances are granted at the beginning of process and final clearances are granted at the end, and these 2 events don’t always happen in the same fiscal year.
  • Some of the final clearance decisions were made for periodic reinvestigations where interim clearance decisions are unnecessary.

What the report clearly shows is that the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) lost ground in FY2010.  It started the year with 9,596 cases pending and ended the year with 17,936 cases pending, even though it opened 5,687 fewer cases than it did in the previous year and granted 5,900 Secret clearances using eAdjudication.  According to the report, operational productivity declined due to personnel problems related to the scheduled relocation of DISCO from Columbus, Ohio to Fort Meade, Md. by August 2011.  Unless DISCO increases their use contract adjudicators or raises their pay scale, expect further problems in the coming months.

Comment Archive

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    Sounds like what was expected. It’s a big stretch for mid-westerners to want to move to the D.C. and Maryland areas. Our pace of life is much slower. Besides, the folks in Columbus do realize the pay does not go far in that area. I think most of us saw a backlog coming and I believe it will get much worse, if for any reason, the poor economy and many folks’ struggles with finances. There are more and more and no doubt DISCO and others are having to spend more time on these. Worse part, there are no predictors or ways to measure issues coming-up in future cases. Until this is possible, I’m betting backlogs will never go away. As always my .02

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    William Henderson:
    I received an Interim Secret Clearance and while I was in Iraq I was contacted by the OPM about an interview. I have been home for a month now and I have another job offer in Afghanistan also requiring a clearance. But this employer tells me that they can not pick up my interim clearance. How can I let them Know that I’m home and ready for an interview?

    Thank You

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    If you are presently between jobs, there is nothing you can do until another federal contractor or government agency sponsors you for a clearance. If you are still employed in a position that requires a clearance, your FSO will need to advise DISCO that you are available for the interview.

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    What genius (or committee of such) decided to move ANY government operation to Maryland? I live in Florida, so I don’t have a “horse in this race”.

    I worked in the DC area – I was assigned to the Pentagon for 4 years in the OACSI. I even worked on a project to automate the Army SSG’s adjudication process. Yeah, this was the stone age and the process used actual Hollerith (aka IBM) cards… But, after months of work, I delivered a product that did everything the SSG wanted – and was promptly discarded because the SSG moved to Ft Meade and they used a different computer system. I saw too much of that in my 20 years in uniform.

    I also worked in Columbus, OH, briefly, and I worked in nearby Dayton for a couple of years. I have to tell you, if I was told that my office was moving from Columbus to Ft Meade – I would find another job.

    It can not possibly be cost effective to move anything from Ohio to Maryland. As far as comm lines are concerned, it costs no more to move data across town than it costs to move it across the USA (despite what the phone companies want you to think). But a salary that gets you a 3 bedroom house in the Columbus area will get you a 2 bedroom 3rd floor walkup apartment around Ft Meade, and a pile of money that gets you prime office space in a Columbus office park will get you 1 or 2 stalls in a strip mall in Maryland.

    Too much money will be wasted to move an efficient operation from a (relatively) low cost area to a (obscenely) high cost area – and the workers will not be paid what they are worth.

    Sorry, folks, but this is something only a politician could love, and I doubt he, she, or it came from Ohio.

  5. Avatar

    What gets me is how new college grads can’t get cleared for anything. And I know someone will day ‘join the military’ but not all of us can. I’m disabled and not about to run, jump, and climb, but that doesn’t make me any less desirable as an employee. I just finished my third BA, and am almost done with an MS, I speak 8 languages, and am well versed in all sorts of software. I’ve worked for the FBI, NW3C, NCFTA, and O6. No one will hire me because I don’t have the magic clearance. Why not? Because some moron in govt put the onus and EXPENSE of clearances on the companies, and guess what their bottom line is? Getting the best people for the job, or saving a few bucks by recycling the same people over and over? I emailed Sen. Rockefeller and it took four months to hear back, and that was a BS form letter. The whole system is broken and no one wants to fix it, because they all benefit.

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    Yep, relocating from Columbus to Ft. Meade sounds like a pretty bone-headed move. Less cost-effective for both the employees AND the office itself. There must be some rationale, but I can’t really figure out what would make such a move worthwhile. I agree with Norman above, if told my job was moving from Ohio to Ft Meade, I’d find another job too.

  7. Avatar

    I am one of the employees tasked with the move from Columbus to Ft. Meade. Needless to say, the entire office is trying to find a new job. No one wants to move to such a congested area, be paid about the same amount (3% increase does not mean much in the big scheme) and have to deal with the housing issue/traffic/office move, etc. Telework has been implimented and appears to be working well, our last saving grace to stay in Ohio.

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    Additionally, the decision was made in 2005 with the BRAC commission wanting all the Adjudication offices located in the same office (not leasing different office spaces), in the most densely populated area of the US. All of the genius’ that wanted that done are no longer in any position of power over control of changing it or even caring about the reason/outcome. Great government decisions!! Maybe it will save the cost of lease payments in the future, but 1. we all have be paid to move our households and increase locality pay 2. we have to build a big-ass building to house us all(millions) 3. the next 3 years adjudication processes are in scramble mode and 4. we would rather be at home (Columbus, OH) making us unhappy. Number 4 being most important…. 😉

  9. Avatar

    Good to see you folks chime in, good firsthand knowledge. I know there is no way I would leave the midwest for that area–I’ve even turned down a few well paying jobs in NoVA. Way too much congestion for me.

  10. Avatar

    When I first started doing background investigations I worked in the DC/NVA area. I did that for one year and vowed I would never move back to that area for any reason. Traffic, cost of living and the rudeness of the people up there are the three reasons I will never move back up there.

  11. Avatar

    Here ya Inv–done 4 details there and had a horrible time. I enjoy the midwest, where almost everyone wants to help when they can. There is nothing appealing there for me.

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    Russ Stover,

    I agree fully. The govt recycles some of its’ laziest employees because they are cleared. Keep trying govt contractors and you will eventually find someone to sponsor a clearance–these jobs are still out there, you just have to be persistent. I would never advise anyone to join the military for a clearance. Start with job fairs if possible in the D.C. and Maryland areas, huge number of employers and many allow on-line resume submission and virtual job fairs. What is your grad degree in? With more info, many on here can guide you a little better.

  13. Avatar

    Russ Stover

    Forgot to say, Find another Congressman other than that one.

  14. Avatar

    Russ Stover:
    As far as I know, DISCO which handles well over 90% of security clearances for contractors, does not charge the contractors. DISCO pays for the investigations, the processing, and adjudication using appropriated funds. Has something changed?

  15. Avatar


    No–it’s the same, sounds like Russ Stover got the old urban legend on clearances. I run into alot of folks that still think the employer pays and that somehow you can mysteriously make anywhere from $25-$30 K more with a clearance and businesses pay bonuses of about $25 K if you have a clearance. This info is as old as time, unless I simply got screwed??? 🙂

  16. Avatar

    Hi Adjudicator 101,

    I’m a background investigator (OPM contractor) trying like hell to transition to DoD adjudication at Fort Meade (preferably as a federal civilian, but I’d take contractor status to get my foot in the door). With all of the talk about high attrition at DISCO and a backlog that just keeps growing (20,000+ cases?) there are NO federal job ads out there. Any talk about federal hiring prior to the Sept. 15th BRAC move deadline?

  17. Avatar

    Hey Blues Clues ~

    There will be a great influx of adjudicator positions opening up after the actual move happens, but right now there is the freeze on hiring any adjudicators(DoD wide). That is mainly because it takes a year or two of training to be comfortable in the job and the responsibilities; they don’t have that kind of time before our June move date they have set. Then there is the consolidation talks that will happen after we move in the building making one CAF and not several (Army, Navy, etc); another 6 months or year of ‘hem-hawing’ and ‘indecision’. I pity the person who needs their clearance and has security issues needing resolution.
    Keep on the USA jobs website, it will happen: and when it does; MANY positions will open up. Endure.

  18. Avatar

    Adjudicator 101,
    I know there are guidelines you have to follow regarding issues but do you really care about some of what I call little things we have to write into our reports. Do you really care if the SJ can not provide a full middle name or a current address for a required relative? Does something like that really factor into your decision of granting a clearance?

  19. Avatar

    Or your AKA is Bill and your first name is actually William, why do you use Bill…….GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  20. Avatar

    Adjudicator 101,

    Thanks for the info. Gives me hope!

  21. Avatar

    BW and Investigator,

    I feel the pain of which you speak!

  22. Avatar

    Adjudicator 101:

    An article I recently wrote concerning the colocation of the DOD CAFs just got posted at:

    I’d appreciate it, if you would read it over and tell me if I got my facts and conclusions right.

    PS: Are you the same Adjudicator 101 who posted on this forum a couple years ago?

  23. Avatar

    Mr. Henderson,

    I read that NGA’s CAF was stood up after the 2005 BRAC decisions and a new NGA CAF facility was built in Springfield, VA; they will not relocate to Fort Meade, MD.

  24. Avatar

    Yes Mr. Henderson, I am the same adjudicator you spoke of.
    I did see your article, it is very nice, quite accurate but the numbers of those actually moving are off a bit; at least for my agency. The Industrial side is gonna hurt for a long time for the adjudicators knowledge that will be lost due to the move. Telework is an option but not for the dinosaur managers that buck the system. BRAC transition would be totally streamlined with telework across the board of the 10 adjudication agencies. Hopefully a subsequent consolidation will cover some of the backlog; due process will be delayed incredibly.
    Mr. Henderson, you are welcome to contact me directly again if you wish. I do not want to disclose too much about myself on here as my management would probably not like it.

    Investigator; it absolutely does not factor in UNLESS it is a foreign national or of foreign influence issues. I scan the Subject interview, the numbers and dates, addresses only matter when dealing with financial accounts or foreign influence (99% of the time). I don’t really care if Uncle Jimmy is in prison in Utah, or the neighbor thinks the applicant is a drunk. Naturalization dates, PFS net amounts, amount of travel (not specific dates) and applicant’s INTENT is most important. Investigators with a scanner would be our saviors!! Unfortunately, OPM and the adjudications divisions don’t appear to be on the same page, just in the same reference book. I am quite sure that a conference with adjudications and investigators would be the most beneficial meeting DOD could facilitate, cutting out the middle-man (managers that don’t collect info OR adjudicate). When I get a call from an investigator it usually lasts quite a long time; gleeming info that neither of us knew about but definately should.

  25. Avatar

    Adj 101,

    Thanks for the cander. We could definitely learn alot from each other if they would take the time to get us together.