Background Investigations

Security Clearance Reform Emphasizes Cutting Costs and Reciprocity

Security clearance reciprocity, adjudication timeliness and leveraging technology to increase efficiency were all topics addressed at this week’s Security Clearance Reform hearing on Capitol Hill. Senator Daniel Akaka, Chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on oversight of government management and the federal workforce, questioned a panel of government leaders on the progress of clearance reforms.

The general consensus was that much progress has been made over the course of the past several years, in moving the security clearance process off of the GAO hot seat and into a position to be, in some ways, a model for similar reform efforts in standardizing government processes. But despite the forward movement, much remains to be done, specifically in the area of reciprocity and communication across agencies.

The Performance Accountability Council (PAC) is responsible for many of the clearance reforms today’s applicants will note, including updating the security clearance application (SF-86) and instituting quality metrics. Today, initial investigations take an average of 44 days, compared to 189 days in 2005, noted Akaka.

Remarks from Gene Dodoro, comptroller general at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, emphasized the progress in security clearance reform as indicated by the removal of the program from the GAO’s high-risk list. Despite forward movement, however, he also emphasized that continued leadership emphasis and public attention would be needed to ensure reform efforts continue.

Dodoro specifically noted the need to reduce redundancy, leverage technology, and conduct an honest assessment of which positions require clearances and what level of clearance is required. “There’s a huge difference in the amount of money that’s used to implement a top secret versus a secret clearance,” Dodoro said.

“For fiscal year 2012 OPM’s standard base prices are $4,005 for an initial investigation of a top secret clearance, $2,711 for an investigation to renew a top secret clearance, and either $228 or $260 for an investigation for a secret clearance. As we reported in February 2012, these base prices can increase if triggered by the circumstances of a case, such as issues related to credit or criminal history checks,” noted Dodoro’s testimony. “Further, the cost of getting and maintaining a top secret clearance for 10 years is almost 30 times greater than the cost of getting and maintaining a secret clearance for the same period.”

Dodoro urged that requesting a lower level clearance when a higher one isn’t needed, as well as evaluating continued need for higher level clearances during periodic reinvestigations would likely result in significant savings for the federal government.


Other testimony largely focused on the issue of reciprocity, and leveraging technology to facilitate timely adjudication for personnel, which is deemed both critical to safeguarding classified materials as well as ensuring a quality workforce.

“A timely process is important because delays in processing security clearances can cause delays in placing qualified individuals in the cleared positions that are needed to accomplish our many missions,” said Elizabeth McGrath, deputy chief management officer, U.S. Department of Defense. “In some cases delays may result in highly qualified applicants withdrawing themselves from consideration for positions and the government losing out on these potential key contributors to our workforce.”

When it comes to clearance reciprocity, McGrath made the case for DoD’s Case Adjudication Tracking System (CATS), initially developed by the Army and now in use across the Department of Defense as well as the Department of Energy. McGrath noted that the Social Security administration was set to deploy cats in FY 2013. The CATS e-adjudication capability as greatly reduced the amount of manual processing required, said McGrath.

Merton Miller, associate director of the federal investigative service of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) noted that Electronic Questionnaires for Security Clearance Processing (eQIP) is the “gold standard” for electronic application throughout the federal government and has made a significant impact on clearance processing times and accuracy. OPM currently receives over 99 percent of its applications through e-QIP, Miller noted.

Overall, future clearance reform will focus both on leveraging technology to increase agency reciprocity programs, as well as continued emphasis on the topic of overclassification – both in terms of classified materials themselves, as well as the numbers of cleared personnel.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    Great–leave it to the Senate to reform the process. They can include in their budget–WAIT!!!! They have no budget and can’t agree on one for the past 3 years. There will never be complete reciprocity in, at least, my days left in this job. Way too many big-headed and egotistical folks in the govt.

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    I know one of my contracts is working toward reciprocity. It’s a law enforcement agency that clears for suitability as well as for a clearance. They’ve moved the suitability questions to a different part of the hiring process in order to be compliant. It’s the intel agencies that will never, ever reciprocate.

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    eQIP is the gold standard! No one can fill the motherf*cker out correctly but gold nonetheless!

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    I have leveraged some great technology recently. I bought a pen that writes smoother than any pen I’ve ever used in the past–these new ball tips are amazing! Also, I use spiral notebooks that have a pre-made cut in the paper so I don’t have anymore torn edgeswhen I pull my notes out of them. We investigators know how to leverage some great technology–we even double envelope everything–that way nobody can ever see what’s inside.

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    Wait until you see these new things called ‘highlighters,’ state of the art, I tell you what!

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    I’ve been hearing about those. You can actually use ink on other ink and still read the letters–holy sxxx not too long ago we had to actually underline what we needed.

  7. Avatar

    Hahahaha. You people crack me up!

  8. Avatar

    Speaking of tech., there’s nothing like the ms-dos looking, straight out of the 1980’s messaging system we use.

    I’m suprised we don’t have dot-matrix printers.

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    I need some 5 1/4 inch floppy disks for my laptop–where can I get a good deal? I also need to re-load Wordstar.

  10. Avatar

    And highlighters actually come in different colors so the yellow can mean discrepant and the green can mean concurrent and the pink… Oh wait I always save the pink and use it all over a credit report that is for a a male subject who dodged my calls and made me go track him down for a 20+ financial spin with not a one listed on his sf. One of those secret clearances that ended up costing a whole lot more than $238 or $260. My technology has pseudo AI

  11. Avatar

    Companies must be losing some major money on the secret clearances. I used to LOVE me some Spins…

  12. Avatar

    I’m amazed there hasn’t been a class action by contractors, who USIS treats just like employees to the point of not allowing them to choose which work to take. Big no-no in the eyes of the IRS. Lots of taxes they’re not having to pay. They do some wild and crazy things over there…

  13. Avatar

    I really do not feel for those people. The whole reason this jobs’ metrics are skewed is the fact that people continually work off the clock to make themselves look better. If folks would do 40 and stop–the numbers would be much lower.

    I warn all new inv’s I train, but few actually listen and work themselves to death–and the pay raises do not come any faster.

  14. Avatar

    I feel your pain. I remember how tough it was out on the street begging for a developed characte reference (DCR) to close a case or just getting enough interviews & records for the month.

    So, I’ve decided to start a new business: “Dial a DCR.” I’ll set up a telephone number (900-DCR-4YOU) where investigators can call me to interview me as a social reference on any case they’re having trouble with. Of course I’ll insist the interview be conducted by telephone. I’ll always recommend the Subject no matter who he/she is, and I’ll always provide the need period of coverage. Even at only $10 a phone call I could get rich.

  15. Avatar


    LMAO, but with the bad economy, I’ll stick to ghost writing–it’s cheaper 🙂

  16. Avatar

    BW is going to prison!!

    Can I have your stapler?

  17. Avatar


    For an extra fee, you could provide a second DCR, just change your voice a bit and voila! Twice the bang for the buck!

  18. Avatar

    I’ve actually started a new business that’s more ethical, but not as much fun. Check out the website by clicking on my name.

  19. Avatar


    Brilliant idea and cool website! Let me know if business gets too busy and you need a sub!

  20. Avatar


    Congrats and I will refer if folks need it.

  21. Avatar

    Since the investigator job is largely just secretarial and questioning by checklist, why not just have the eQIP (or hopefully something better) in electronic form on an iPad. Then sit in the interview and correct and amend the information. Change the “I don’t know” to “They didn’t know” have a pull down blank space to type in the reason they forgot to list a previous investigation in 1988, etc.

    Maybe have a good voice recognition system (the iPad one is pretty good), a handwriting re-cognition system and a stylus (I know Jobs didn’t like styluses, but…), and an encrypted portable bluetooth keypad/keyboard that you can pass to the Subject and let him or her type in the explanation in his or her own words. After leaving the ESI give it a cursory proofing and transmit.

    I know that hospitals and investigators in health/medical fields use these advanced approaches so why not OPM? I know in my day-to-day job as an OPM contract investigator I feel like Luke Wilson in the movie “Idiocracy”.

    And if the prohibition of iPads/electronics in secure facility is a problem than simply require all government/contractor facilities to have at least a dozen small sound-proof private rooms in or near the entrance, available only for background investigation interviews.

    Now, for record checks…(to be continued)

  22. Avatar


    Awesome website, looks sharp!

  23. Avatar


    That is a great idea–only problem with it is, almost all of the areas I worked in a Combined Command is a SCIF and there are no electronic devices allowed anywhere in the building. I think this may be why we have nothing but handwritten methods.

    If there was a way, I think your idea nailed-it.

  24. Avatar


    You should start a comments section, so we can overload yours with non-sense like we do here 🙂

  25. Avatar


    For any facility that will not allow electronic devices than they must create a satellite office/facility with the dozen interview rooms and tell their people to cooperate with this policy or get a job in the real world. I think those receiving the investigation should be expected to meet us half way, right? In the private sector people fly to other cities for jobs they are merely hoping to get.

  26. Avatar


    I agree 100%.

  27. Avatar

    Screw that crap! I put in my 40 hours and then I am DONE. I was trained well 😀

  28. Avatar


    Sounds like you may have had the best trainer in the business. Good to hear you figured it out–most are too hard-headed.

  29. Avatar

    Investigators: What’s your take on the remaining things that can be done to improve clearance processing times and accuracy? The government cites improvements. If you were in charge, what’s next on the “must fix” list?

  30. Avatar


    You may have just opened a HUUUUGE can of worms, but I will respond a bit later.

  31. Avatar

    BW: We are happy to open the can of worms! We may soon have the ability to discuss clearance reform with some decision-makers that could actually influence the process. Talking to cleared workers on a daily basis, we know the process is far from perfect and the government numbers appear a bit sugar coated. While we have suggestions we can offer, clearance investigators are on the front lines, so your input is invaluable. Thanks!

  32. Avatar


    We can never address anything that is helpful until we increase manning.

    Example: I was recently assigned 33 cases that were all due on the same date, 9 days from when they were assigned. This is no new thing–this has been going on for years now. All of the time delays are because of work overload. Consider this: a case with several issues will take about 3-5 hours just to type. Now, times that by 33 and we are at about 55 hours just in typing time. Leaves me about 4 days to interview about 231 people if it is an average PR. This story can be told thousands of times over by investigators throughout the country and the one’s who burned-out and left.

    I’ll bet many other investigators here will echo my thoughts. I’ve been doing this 8 years now and with all of the flaws I see, I could literally fill this board and probably a few others with what is wrong.

  33. Avatar


    My math is jacked-up. The typing time should range from 99 hrs to 165 hrs depending on the report. The interview time has been deleted. This is why this industry hides the dirty little secret, which is: usually investigators that want to keep their jobs, will work many hours off the clock so they can take care of their families. Now, this has never been a verbal or written policy, but anyone doing this job can attest to what I am saying.

  34. Avatar

    BW: Thanks for the input – it’s a story we’ve heard for a while. It seems like OPM’s hiring of contract investigators has fallen off over the last few years. Two questions: First, when you ask for more manpower, are you talking about contract investigators, OPM investigators, or either? Second, what can be done to reduce the time it takes to simply enter case information? We’ve heard everything from using tablet computers to voice recognition, and a few other ideas. What’s your take?

  35. Avatar


    One of the big things that would reduce typing time would be not having to report so many disclaimers that are used to either confirm listed information or confirm the absence of other information.

    As a part of that, one of the great things about the new SF86 is that we’re not required to re-report any listed information (for the most part). That was great until OPM decided that every single “I don’t know” response be disclaimed. The new case papers expand the info requested for each verifier to include 3 phone numbers, and email address, and a physical address. Most people simply don’t know all of that information. As result, even though we don’t have to re-report listed information, we have to disclaim/confirm every single IDK response. It’s such a time waster, especially since most people have listed enough info to contact the verifier but just may not happen to know the email address for every person they’ve listed.

  36. Avatar

    The main point I was trying to make above (before I got distracted by how much I hate the new IDK rule) is that it would save a lot of report writing time if listed responses were assumed correct/confirmed unless otherwise stated by the investigator’s report. Resolving issues and correcting incorrect/missing info takes enough time without having to add disclaimers for information that is correct as listed.

  37. Avatar

    I agree with what was just listed – the “I don’t know” disclaimers are insane. Honestly, I type (for each verifier missing information) “Subject does not know his reference’s email address or alternate phone number, which is why he listed that he did not know this information on the SF-86”. Multiply that by multiple verifiers. I need to address it with the subject, confirm that he does not know the information, the write about how he does not know the information. It’s assinine. And the reviewers and adjudicators have to sift through this nonsense when reading my report.

    Another issue is unlisted foreign travel. The instructions on the form aren’t clear so every government contractor thinks they are traveling on official government business. When they are told their contract travel doesn’t qualify, we go through all the unlisted travel. And, in addition to reporting this info, we have to type in our reports all of the new disclaimer travel information they would have had to answer if they’d fill out the form properly.

    There are so many little things, like subjects listing their high school education from 1970 to forgetting to list part time or consulting employments.

    Oh, and confronting subjects with unlisted prior investigations. Almost no one knows when their prior investigations occurred and almost everyone only lists their most recent investigation on the form. So add another 5-10 minutes to discuss the 17 missing investigations dating back to 1964. And don’t forget that the info needs to be typed into the report. UGH.

    And subjects who are told to list their future employer info on the SF-86 as their current employer. So the case gets scheduled to Virginia when the person lives in Montana…

    Honestly, I think it all comes down to the subjects filling out the forms properly. Even those who ask their security offices for clarification are told bad info. Correcting paperwork issues during the interview and typing take up about 95% of my time. I probably spend less than 5% addressing things that would matter to an adjudicator. It’s really, truly crazy.

    I wish OPM would offer mandatory classes to subjects who have to fill out the sf-86 and sf-85p. That would save everyone a TON of time. Rant off, for now.

  38. Avatar

    I know a tedious and time-consuming part of my interviewing is the writing. I have to take great pains and flesh out half statements by the Subject/source because for me to do a good job by OPM/company standards I must have complete, legible notes and cover all the required points. I don’t have the luxury of uncovering the essence of an incident, event, or pattern of behavior, because I am too busy covering all the disclaimers. Investigation by checklist of things that are not the case. I am less focused on what (essence) is being told to me (big picture) than how I must phrase it in my notes for them to be complete and acceptable to quality review. No journalist notes or approach, ever. This job could be interesting and fun and maybe even useful in assessing someone’s fitness to hold a national security position if what is reported and how it is reported is radically changed. We should be closer to investigative journalists. We could ask all the disclaimers for issues with the possibility of eliciting a response, but if nothing positive is developed than there is nothing to report. And of course, we would report any contrary-to-fact that is germane.

    When I watch TMZ and read various news sources I am amazed how quickly and with such depth these folks can get dirt/info/bio on someone. I guess they aren’t stymied by the Privacy Act of 1974, various releases, protected source status, DOS-based message systems, PIPS, et al. I read about the crazy anti-Semitic Elmo on Central Park in a DrudgeReport story and two days later a New York Times writer interviewed and researched him and had a full article about his past, an illicit website he ran in Thailand, where he came from, where he lives (homeless), et al. Amazing. And no disclaimer busy, counterfactual reporting in the article.

  39. Avatar

    Contract Investigator,

    Interestingly, the second most common reason for OPM to reject a case is “current employment.” If the company that sponsored the clearance is not listed as the current employer, OPM rejects the case. When OPM rejects a case, it takes about 60 day for the case to make it back to the applicant and for the applicant to resubmit. These 60 days are not included in average case processing times. Doesn’t OPM understand the concept of a “Conditional Offer of Employment—COE?” If OPM understands COEs, have they provided any instructions to the applicants (or their FSOs), so they can list their prospective employer as their current employer without confusing the investigative agency about where the Subject Interview should be conducted?

  40. Avatar

    Much of what we do is redundant. Why we interview the subj’s very best friends, makes little sense–what do we expect them to say. The biggest sore spot lately is social coverage. How can we get it through to OPM that not all people are social butterflies. If the subj and everyone else says the subj does not socialize outside of family, why can’t we just move on to more important things. Also, three trips to a residence wastes time. If I call with a phone message and get no reply/response back–let’s move on. Going back 3 times does not garner anymore participation. I can literally waste 2 hours a day just going back to the same home over-and-over.

  41. Avatar


    That’s why I stopped taking residences a LONG time ago As a contractor, I can’t make any money doing them.

  42. Avatar


    The subject interview gets scheduled by computer to the current employer. Since it’s computerized, I think they’re have to somehow change their computer system to recognize current location versus future employer. Some case types are worse than others. With MBI’s, I probably have to reschedule almost half. Spins are almost as bad.

  43. Avatar

    When the phone is not ringing I know it is the people who don’t want to get involved not calling me back. In this day and age why would any co-worker, neighbor, developed lead, et al., say something, on record, that could get back to the Subject?! I sure as heck wouldn’t. I’ve had a case where the former supv and co-workers said the Subj cannot be trusted, violated security policies (not in Subj sec file, btw), is mental, et al. Not one was willing to go on the record before saying this stuff and all were protected sources. In cases where I know a source has lots of derogatory info if they don’t request anonymity (protected status) they will not say anything bad. Can you imagine if investigative journalists had to abide by the same rules/process as OPM in national security investigations? Watergate would still be in RZ status.

  44. Avatar

    A typical issue resolution

    Q: “So have you ever had counseling or treatment…”?
    A: “Dude, I told you I used pot only that one time in college in 1998.”

    Q: “Were any financial problems incurred as a result…”?
    A: “Like having to buy a pizza later on from the munchies?”

  45. Avatar

    I think security clearance investigations need to be exempt from the privacy act. People are hesitant to go on record with derogatory info, especially neighbors. I spent 3 hours with a former spouse once who decided at the end of the interview she wanted protected status- she was very upfront in telling me her very subtantial alimony could be adversely affected if her ex lost his clearance. Thankfully most of the stuff she told me could be corroborated by the divorce and other public records.

  46. Avatar

    I think we need guns. I could compel more testimones that way.

    Kidding, only kidding, if any of the Higher Ups are reading, my computer has been compromised and I have no idea who posted this.

  47. Avatar

    Folks: Thanks for the additional info as it’s been very helpful in understanding your daily problems. I’ve heard a lot about disclaimers, lines of questioning and what you can and cannot ask, the time delays incurred due to chasing down subjects, and finally OPM’s issues with “current employer.”

    What about tools of the trade? What can be done to make data entry go faster, or what tools are you using that are antiquated, etc.?

    Thanks again.

  48. Avatar


    Us old dogs are still OK with pen/paper, but we are missing the boat with technology. The newer generations are savvy with technology and we still give them the good ole ink pen. We are wasting their talents, especially by not even asking them what they need to be more successful. I know the answers to fixing things are in the minds of the field staff.

    Also, like to add, that if their was reciprocity, my guess the number of clearance investigations would cut in half–how’s that for improved timeliness.

  49. Avatar

    A big help would be being able to access [streamlined] case info in the field (names, numbers, addresses, case info/leads). Instead of having to copy this info down (from the extremely antiquated PIPS) on a piece of paper and have to take that in a separate folder into the field each day whether I get around to it or not (e.g., a RESI or EDUC I might or might not have time to get to). Being able to access this info by both tablet and smartphone would be great. Things like RT/UCs, RT/NR, and records (and if possible MEDIs and personal sources) should be paperless and transmitted right then and there. So we are left with merely Subject reports to type (hopefully on our iPads with bluetooth keyboards).

    Steve Jobs realized the importance of simplifying. This OPM inv job seems to be the antithesis of this in addition to being hyper-resistant to change.

  50. Avatar

    Fed. Investigator,

    Since you have the title of “special agent” with U.S. OPM I’m sure most people assume you are carrying. What other US Govt agency has S/As who don’t carry guns?

  51. Avatar


    I’ve moved on from field investigations and tried to market my many years of experience to contractors in the role of Personnel Security Specialist/Administrator.

    My conclusions: NO CONTRACTOR CARES that the forms are not filled out correctly. NO CONTRACTOR CARES that their personnel are not briefed prior to executing the SF-86/SF-85-P or prior to ESIs.

    I’ve been told time and time again that it’s not their problem.

    I’ve been OVER AND OVER, in writing and in person (till I’m blue in the face), the implications of poorly executed forms and the resulting delays in the investigative and adjudicative phases – especially considering OPM’s newest coverage changes sure to hinder the investigative phase.

    Obviously, the current delays are so much shorter than the delays of years past that contractors are satisfied with the status quo.

    Get the attention of contractors: levy fees for poorly executed paperwork. MAKE it their problem.

  52. Avatar

    I have no idea about other agencies, as soon as people see the credential, they ask my what it’s like to work for the FBI. I cringe every time I hear it. I explain it them that I am not FBI and I work for OPM but they don’t listen. It’s ridiculous. I worked for the NLRB for a few years doing unfair labor practice investigations and had Credentials but we were called ‘Field Examiners’ not S/A’s. We also didn’t carry and I don’t think we need to carry in this job either being that we have no arrest authority.

  53. Avatar

    As far as tools of the trade, we have everything we need. Being able to access case info via a portable device would be awesome. Carrying only cases we are supposed to work does nothing but suck efficiency. The work day changes and flows, the more work I have physcially on me, the more productive I can be but I know that goes against the PII policy.

    Quite frankly, better training and a uniform set of coverage guidelines that aren’t continually changing would help. The no double dipping policy is absurd, especially when it comes to unemployment coverage. Case assigning is also absurd, we’re swamped and no help is on the way because of budgetary constraints. About five years ago, the work-life balance for investigators was awful and OPM made strides to fix it but it seems we have back-slidden. You’re again going to have burn out as a big issue and it’s stupid because they already dealt with it and are stuck having to deal with it again. What a waste.

    You know what would help the most? A clean, clear and concise policy of what needs to be reported in the ROI. I know I over report and it sucks but you’re not going to get an RZ for too much info but who the hell knows what the right cut-off point is. You can ask 10 different people and get 10 different answers. Can you clearly answer what qualifies a source as a social source? Contact outside of work? Contact at work? Does having lunch qualify or does there need to be more? Is it quantity of contact or how much they know about the person? Is it a mix of both? Shouldn’t this be a basic rule that every Investigator can answer clearly with a specific set of metrics?

  54. Avatar

    +1 on the clear reporting requirements. Once the new sf86 hit the field and OPM kept making changes on what did and didn’t need to be reported I asked one of my contracts to have a mock interview and mock ROI on the interview for training. The response I got? No one is really exactly sure what is right and if you ask ten people to conduct and report you’ll get ten different ways of doing it. So that’s consistent in the contracting world as well. Also, working for different OPM contractors, I have different expectations and reporting requirements for different contractors. Really should be absolutely the same… When I am mentoring a new investigator or talking to someone about becoming one, I have to emphasize the sometimes ridiculous stuff we have to do. It’s not stressful, there is just absolutely no common sense involved.

    I have a different, OPM compliant contract that I work on and their questions are relevant and make sense. And their reporting also makes sense.

  55. Avatar

    I understand the importance of protecting PII. But the system we have now is so burdensome and antiquated that it actually works against protecting PII loss. I have relatives in the medical and financial fields. They are privy to much more sensitive personal information and PII yet they can access it whatever they need by iPhone, Blackberry, iPod, Mac Book. They don’t write down PII or personal info on a piece of paper and then bring that around. My relative in the financial field (who oversees critical financial records) said the way we are required to do it is insane and dangerous. He said password protection on the device (he now uses just an iPhone and iPad) and the app is sufficient. And if the device is lost or stolen he can simply remote swip it clean. If an OPM inv loses one of 50 pieces of paper he will not be aware of it immediately and when he realizes it he can’t count on password protection or remote swip it clean.

    Also, I would estimate that 80% of the information on a case in PIPS is not useful for the investigator’s job and in most cases the investigators uses 5 to 10% of it at most. The info could be culled and put into usuable info for the investigator. When I get a new item from a case it is not efficient to go to PIPS, have to go through 2 menu options, type in — is it F4 or F5 or F6 for RESI info?– then type in B1 or C1 to get additional info on the RESI verifier, etc. Really?!! This would’ve seemed ludicrously backwater in the 1990’s…in Papua New Guinea.

  56. Avatar

    One other promising (not-so) new technology that would help efficiency would be smart pens with digital paper. You could have the forms on the digital paper pad and make changes and note with the smart pen (sans the audio recording). Livescribe is one company heading this technology:

    If OPM were to go to Silicon Valley and tap some top techies I’m sure they could do more, orders of magnitude more, in 6 months what OPM hopes to do with piecemeal contracting with IT companies over the next 5 to 10 years.

    Too bad Apple couldn’t be enlisted to undertake this. They understand simplicity, uniformity, and intuitive and user friendly interfaces.

  57. Avatar

    Looks like unemployment coverage has been amended. A step in the right direction.

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    What about education records that are 37 years old and the subj has worked for the govt for 33 years????? Does anyone see the importance or pertinence?

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    That seems a little out of scope.

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    Fed- I haven’t seen or heard of recent changes to unemployment coverage. Policies haven’t trickled down yet…

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    Why does my company have to make things so confusing and difficult? Investigators and reviewers are on the same team. We want to provide a quality report so the adjudicator and or security officer can make the proper decision on whether or not to grant the SJ a clearance. We as investigators for my company now have a new process in which we can dispute the fact if we get a deficiency for a case we transmit. A deficiency basically given to us by our review staff who are our co-workers and colleauges, not our supervisors. Yes we are told reviewers are not the ones who specifically send out the deficiencies but they are they ones who submit the forms to our Metrics division who in turn sends out the deficiencies. We are all on the same team here. There should be no deficiencies at all. We as investigators are going to make mistakes. We are going to miss things especially since OPM keeps changing the rules. We are human. If we do miss something the reviewer should just let us know and then we can take care of it. If an investigator keeps missing stuff for cases then the reviewer should let their supervisor know who in turn will let the investigators supervisor know and that investigator can get additional training. Since our company has had this lovely policy ever since I started in 02 there has always been tension between reviewers and investigators and our upper management wonders why. I have heard that KGS does not do this deficiency stuff. Their investigators and reviewers work together to get the case done right. If this is the case no wonder so many investigators left USIS to go over to KGS. I may be headed there soon.

    Okay I will step off of my soapbox now. Hope everyone else is doing well out there.

  62. Avatar


    The dynamic between reviewers and investigators at KGS is 180 degrees from that at USIS. I had my doubts when I crossed over, but have been very impressed with them. Aside from kicking myself when I miss something, it’s generally a pleasure to work with the KGS reviewers and investigator help folks.

  63. Avatar

    Very Special Inv,

    I agree–I’ve been with KGS since 2005 and have had no difficulties. They always try to help, before re-opening and I’m glad to hear other folks appreciate it. Who knows, we may have talked when I did a stint on the help team. I props to the Help Team Lead and Lead CRA–they are good people as well.

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    For OPM investigations a good investigator is just a fastidious secretary. Coverage rules and requirements seem to be constantly in flux. It almost seems to be a secret as to what exactly must be asked, obtained, resolved, etc. And I’m still surprised that Subjects aren’t just required to appear for their interview at some central office location (OPM or KGS or USIS building). Have a stenographer make the corrections and explanations with the “investigator” asking the checklist of disclaimers and points. Personal sources can be done by telephone. All companies who do business with the federal government should be required to have a system where they must provide an electronic copy of an EMPL record when requested by OPM. Sort of like a Work Number. Similar requirements for academic institutions that get federal funds and health care providers under Obamacare (i.e., all).

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    My biggest issue is the changing guidelines. The handbook isn’t updated to include all the changes so I find myself having to dig through old emails if I miss something. Oh, yeah, I was informed of this particular policy change 4 months ago by email. It’s buried under the 32 other policy change emails I have to remember. I used to be able to go to my handbook on my computer and do a search for the info I’m looking for. Now, I have to try that, then search my emails. It’s crazy.

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    Agreed, Contractor. An updated handbook is sorely needed. At least then all of the changes up to whenever its updated would all be in one place. Then we’d only have to keep track of post-update changes, until those of course overtake the handbook and another update is needed.

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    Not sure what type of reform is going on, but it’s not working for me. My TS was adjudicated in June ’11 and some 13 months later still awaiting my SCI eligibility adjudication from AFCAF with no end in sight. Meanwhile I can’t do the job that the company hired me to do, hence my skillset is wasting away.

    Can anyone tell me why the people at AFCAF are not allowed to talk to a contractor to inquire about ‘our’ cases? My FSO and government POC seems to either not be interested in my case or AFCAF is ignoring them as well.

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    What handbook are you guys referring to? 🙂

  69. Avatar

    The Anarchist Cookbook.


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    13 months too long for an answer. Are you talking to an SSO of Security Manager? I recently did my SCI and it took about 3.5 weeks through AFCAF. Most unit or directorate Security Managers have no juice in the SCI world. Go to the SSO for whatever Wing or Command you work for if you haven’t already.

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    I have been talking almost daily with the SSO and they keep telling me that they have heard nothing. I am unsure how active the SSO is in pinging the AFCAF, but suffice to say that people who were hired 6 months after me, with a SECRET clearance, now have their TS/SCI. The thing that bothers me is that I am getting no feedback whatsoever on my case, meaning something is wrong, etc. I do have a relatives on my wife’s side who are Canadian, however they existed when I had an SCI on active duty, so I am not sure if that is what is holding things up. I am at a loss as to what to do.

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    I can’t talk to the AFCAF, don’t know if the SSO is talking to the AFCAF, have no connections within the AFCAF…this is just very frustrating and I feel like my career is in jepoardy.

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    A big time waster for us investigators is financial resolutions and SPINS and the time involved in both covering and typing. I made a suggestion a while back that a clearance for a national security position should have the same scrutiny and thumbs up/down as applying for a store charge card. Someone disagreed and said that there are some extenuating circumstances, e.g., medical crisis etc., and someone’s fitness should not be judged by such an objective standard. Well, ok, I understand. But why then are we required to go into an ESI/SPIN and go through a dozen delinquent financial accounts? Citi acct 123456789…, Citi acct. 987654321…, HSBC acct. 1234432112… and go through what each account was used for, all the details, and then have to type up all this pointless information in the ROI. Why not just be able to ask the reason for the delinquency and write a one paragraph explanation?

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    I’m promoting you (too bad I don’t have any authority)… I agree. It is pretty evident when someone has 12 delinquent random store credit cards (like Best Buy, Victorias Secret, ec) that they debt isn’t for anything necessary. Common sense rarely prevails in our world.

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    I highly doubt Canadian relatives would have held this up, but, I can’t say with certainty. Hate to sound too critical, but I’m willing to bet if you were a govt employee, they would have “pinged” AFCAF sooner. When I did my SCI in January, I was a govt employee.

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    I don’t like to recommend intervention by a person’s congressman, except in rare circumstances, particularly when the person is an employee of a federal contractor. I think it may be warranted in your case. You previously had a TS/SCI and I assume nothing significant has changed with regard to your Canadian relatives.

    I recommend you write a polite letter to the director of AFCAF and provide your investigation request number (which is listed at the top of your printed copy of the e-QIP form), name, dob, ssn, a brief timeline, and information about your clearance history. Ask about the status of your case and an estimate of when an SCI determination will be made. Indicate at the bottom of the letter that a copy is being sent to your congressman.

    Write a letter to your congressman (attach the letter to AFCAF) and state that you intend to ask for his/her help in resolving this problem, if you do not receive a satisfactory response from AFCAF within XX days.

    Good luck.

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    Mr. Henderson/BW,

    Thanks for ‘listening’ and providing advice. I appreciate your efforts in helping me.