Security Clearance Process

Senate Hearing On Security Clearance Reform

On September 15, 2009 a hearing was held before a Senate subcommittee responsible for oversight of the Federal government’s security clearance reform process. Testifying before the subcommittee were representatives of OMB, OPM, DOD, ODNI, and GAO. Transcripts of their prepared statements are posted at the Senate subcommittee’s website.

Here are some highlights from the prepared statements:

• 90% of initial clearance investigations by OPM are done in an average of 37 days.
• Average investigation for a Top Secret clearance now takes 79 days.
• Average investigation for a Secret clearance now takes 47 days.
• Security clearance investigation backlog (cases older than 180 days) has been eliminated.
• E-Adjudication of Secret clearances was implemented for DOD industrial cases in September 2009 (originally planned for May 2009). This capability will be extended to the Air Force and Navy adjudication facilities by December 2009.

Here are some of the lowlights:

• 11% of initial clearance eligibility decisions took more than 300 days to complete in FY08.
• Only 260,000 of the estimated 3 million active security clearances are currently in OPM’s Clearance Verification System.
• The new Federal Investigative Standards that were approved in December 2009 (but not yet implement) will be changed.
• The new SF86, originally expected to be approved by January 2009, won’t even be available for public comment until late September 2009 (a lengthy process required before final approval).
• According to GAO, long-term funding requirements for the reformed process still have not been identified.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    I’ve been waiting for my security clearance for nearly TWO years. I was finally granted an interim in early June after re-submitting paperwork at least 3 times. I am beyond disgusted with the process.

  2. Avatar

    I’m assuming that ‘investigation times’ here do not include adjudication. This article may be unintentionally misleading to those who do not realize this. Adjudication may take much longer than the investigative process, perhaps moreso if you’re going for an SCI.

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    We were just told the current backlog was between 9 months and a year. Hmm…

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    Well, I have only just been able to start looking for a clearance job after a 7 year hiatus. (2002 divorce killed my credit and yanked my clearance eligability, had to wait for all that crap to drop off my report) Its almost impossible to even find a job that does not require an active clearance, at least in the private sector.

  5. Avatar


    I’d just like to say that I am a Reviewer of Background Investigations and I have experience as a Background Investigator. I have a great amount of experience and would like to become a regular part of answering questions on this blog. If any of the owners/contributors could e-mail me about becoming more active on this blog, I would appreciate it.

  6. Avatar

    Welcome. We appreciate any input you have. Feel free to answer any questions that are asked. The blog kind of runs itself and whoever can reply to a question is more than welcome to. At least that is the feel I get from the room. I think the admins will say the same thing. Are you in Western PA? Again Welcome.

  7. Avatar

    No, I’m in Baltimore, Md. Well, if anyone has questions for me, I’m ready! Remember, I review your cases!

  8. Avatar


    No worries–you will get more than enough questions. I learn something new everyday on this board.

  9. Avatar

    Hello, my husband have a TS clearence for over 20 yrs. 10 as a O-3 Navy and 10yrs with his bussines.

    He lost his bussines, lock of funding in the contract. He got a job in a different state, we are renting a home, but can’t pay the mortgage in our privios address. the house is on the market for sale but it looks the is going to be forclose. Can my husband loose his TS because a forclosure?

    Thank you.

  10. Avatar


    Your husband just needs to focus on listing these issues as well trying to mitigate them. Some mitigate them by filing bankruptcy or going to a debt counselor. The main thing is not to just let this linger. Do what you can to try and fix the situation and make sure you explain how you are trying to fix it.

  11. Avatar

    20 years ago while in the A.F. an AFOSI ROI was initiated on myself. At it’s conclusion my Commander took no action due to insufficient evidence. I still have that letter. I never received any written notification of action taken regarding my Secret Clearance. After the Commander took no action on the ROI he recommended me for reenlistment and I seperated from the A.F. with an Honorable Discharge and no restrictions on my DD-214. I have been notified that I need to start the Clearance process and am wondering what information would still be in the DCII. According to the A.F. guidelines the Criminal ROI information in the DCII should be removed at the 15 year mark. The AFOSI retains Criminal ROIs for 15 years as well. If my Secret Clearance from 20 years ago was suspended and is Coded Z Loss of Jurisdiction because I left the A.F. what information will be available to the Investigator regarding this incident? It sounds like all documentation should have been destroyed years ago. I’m getting ready to do FOIA requests to DSS and AFOSI.


  12. Avatar


    As a retired AF (Criminal Inv) I will tell you to never assume anything was destroyed. If need be, just tell your investigator what happened. No charges were levied and you separated honorably. I cannot see what you told us as being a problem. Contact with the Police or AFOSI in the AF is very common, with or without an accusation. Better to just report on your own than to try to explain later. 20 years is a long time ago. The loss of jurisdiction is usually another way of saying you separated and no longer need an AF clearance.

  13. Avatar

    Hey BW AN INVESTIGATOR Thanks for the reply.


  14. Avatar


    Just to make sure that I understand this correctly, these new federal investigative standards (which Bill refers to in an older article ‘New Federal Investigative Standards’) are in place right now?

    I only ask because I am looking to go to OCS in the near future and I’m pretty sure they will start my security clearance within the coming month.

    I realize this question might seem redundant, given the article ‘s information and the comments listed beneath it..but I’d like to be sure nevertheless.

    thanks in advance- Jack

  15. Avatar

    What does it mean if you were granted a clearance but not an EOD. I found out that I’ve been cleared recently for a TS/SCI w/ full poly but was not given an EOD date. I thought that getting the clearance would turn my COE to an EOD. Do you think it’s because the FY 2010 budget isn’t in effect yet?

  16. Avatar


    What article are you referring to?

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  18. Avatar

    Jack B:

    The new Federal Investigative Standards that were approved in December 2008 were supposed to be incrementally deployment in selected populations beginning in the second quarter of calendar year 2009. That never happened and at this point it appears that the December 2008 standards will not be implemented exactly as they are currently written.

    At the congressional hearing at least two of the witnesses stated that the December 2008 standards will be changed, probably by next spring. OPM also mentioned this in response to a GAO report earlier this year. I think the revision will only affect the type of investigation required for suitability and public trust determination, not for national security clearances. The December 2008 standards were not in compliance with an Executive Order published in January 2009, so a rewrite was almost immediately required. So for the time being they will continue to use the same investigative standards that have been in effect for the past 12 years or so.

  19. Avatar

    Thanks, Bill.

  20. Avatar

    Started my DoD job in April. Secret required. BI finished on July 11th, and has been in adjudication since. No news good news? Lived overseas for over 10 years and spouse is Japanese. I’ve contacted SO twice to inquire about status but it is still in adj. Waiting….. Thanks for all the good info.

  21. Avatar

    Please help.

    For 5+ yrs I worked as an investigator on the OPM contract through a contractor. In 06/2008 I went through my PR for TS. The case was adjudicated and clearance granted in 08/2008. (I ordered and received a copy of the completed investigation in Jan/ Feb 2009.) Prior to my PRSI, I had been privy to many unethical procedures practiced by my employer. I felt guilty by association. After wrestling with whether or not to be a whistle-blower, I concluded that revealing information during my PRSI was a good bet. I was hoping that whoever proofread my investigation would forward that information to the right people; thus correcting the system, clearing my conscience, and covering my tail.

    (Information revealed was that I had been instructed to work cases based solely on the amount of money they were worth to the company. I was told to “not worry” about full cases that were hours from being transmitted because higher dollar cases were of a high priority to my employer. At first I refused. How could purposefully put aside a case on a soldier who had waited in line for his clearance like everyone else?. Shamefully, I tell you that I gave in after a few weeks of having my job threatened on a daily basis. The “almost finished cases” collected dust until someone (must’ve been someone from an Ivory tower), flagged me for holding onto unfinished cases for weeks… yes, weeks. Then my supervisor did a 180 and demanded that I finish the cases that I had been begging to finish. Nope, she didn’t try to say that it was my fault for not completing them earlier. Her demands were translations of what had been sent down from her manager, etc. I have no idea how far up the unethical chain ran. (Although, probably one of the worst, this is only one example of many.)

    I was placed on unpaid leave in 12/2008 without reason. No one from the company would return my calls until mid 01/2009 when I was told that I was being terminated because of falsification. (To attack my integrity is to attack my soul.) I was not allowed to defend myself. The data that I submitted in rebuttal was refused. In 04/2009 two OIG agents arrived at my home without notice. I was voluntarily interviewed for almost 3 hrs during which time I offered data to back my innocence (which again, was refused). I expressed my intent to comply and to be available whenever needed regarding the investigation. After not being recontacted, I concluded that my name was clear. I abandoned contemplations of pursuing legal action for defamation (etc). I am not a litigious person and do not want to spend years in a long court battle.

    In 03/2009 I accepted a job making $14/ hr (1/2 of former salary). Last month I was offered an investigator position with another OPM contractor. Last week that position was guaranteed pending verification of my clearance. Yesterday I was told that OPM will not let me work on the contract without reason. I have never received any correspondence from OPM regarding the matter.

    Please help. How do I fight this? Is there any possibility of rectifying this matter in short order? Or at least before the job is offered to someone else?

    Please respond with any/ all suggestions. I have scrubbed the OPM website, google searches for “OPM deny access”, etc and have been unable to locate any helpful information. At this juncture, I don’t care how much or long it takes to clear my name. I’ll pay the attorneys with money earned from digging ditches if I have to.

    Thanks for reading this.

  22. Avatar

    Hello Mike,

    I just had a interview with a investigator who went over my paperwork and will be meeting my contacts next week. I have had some recent financial problems…

    4-5 credit cards debt (I have just settled ALL in full with the creditors in August)
    Mortgage and Equity Line defaulted loan (in Modification Process right now)
    Property Taxes…(just paid off full for 2007 and 2008)

    All this was due to my unemployment for the past year or so. I have been trying to remedy the situation and clear all the debt there is.

    What are my chances of secret clearence with DHS?


  23. Avatar


    You should not have anything to worry about as long as you admitted that you had the debt when you completed your security clearance paper work. Since you have settled with the creditors, have a plan in place with the loan modification process, and the fact that the debts were due to unemployment should help you get your clearance. It may take longer because research will need to be done to prove this, but I wouldn’t worry if I were you.

  24. Avatar

    Burned: Sorry to hear about your situation. This is not something that you should attempt on your own. The only advice I can offer is to get an attorney experienced in federal labor law.

  25. Avatar

    Just a timeline for a DOD SSBI:

    End of Month 1: Paperwork submitted
    End of Month 3: PRSI
    End of Month 3: Investigator calls for followup questions/more information
    Mid-Month 4: Investigator calls for more information, again
    Mid-Month 5: Investigation closes
    Mid-Month 6: Investigation reopens for more information, paperwork is submitted to DISCO, then DOHA
    End of Month 6: Paperwork is lost
    End of Month 8: Paperwork resurfaces
    Mid-Month 9: DOHA interrogatory received
    Mid-Month 9: Response to interrogatory sent
    End of Month 9 (a week and a day later): Clearance approved

    I have to admit I was extremely impressed by the speed, thoroughness, and professionalism of the representatives I spoke to at DOHA. It seems to me that the biggest part of the problem is DISCO.

  26. Avatar

    I’m for a top secret security clearance. A few years ago, I had a paid summer internship at a nonprofit that has had a lot of turnover. My supervisor is long gone, and I haven’t really kept in touch with him. I don’t know anyone who is still at the nonprofit. So I have no idea who to list as a supervisor. Will the investigator really want to talk with a supervisor at a job where I only worked for three months?

  27. Avatar

    Former Intern

    3 Months–don’t worry, just list you did not recall a supervisor list what you remember and the investigator will take from there. Only a record is required if can be found if you had no difficulties there, no interview is required.