What’s Behind Low Morale for Background Investigators?
At the tail-end of a recent Security Clearance Podcast, we asked ClearanceJobs contributor and President of the Federal Clearance Assistance Service William Henderson what he sees behind the current low morale of background investigators.
“For the longest time there has been a lot of pressure on investigators to complete cases,” said Henderson. Background investigators are a workforce under constant pressure. And while the pendulum was supposed to swing toward more quality investigations, the demand on investigators remains to churn out as many completed investigations as quickly as possible. And many lack the support system of on-site management.
“Almost all background investigators today – the vast majority of them – work from home,” said Henderson. “They don’t have an office to go to, they don’t have the normal social interaction that other works do. They obviously cannot get into a social conversation with the people that they’re interviewing. They can only address what needs to be done in the interview.”
“Secondly, the fact that so many investigators work for contractors, and contractors are motivated by profit, and consequently the people who get elevated into leadership positions are those who are the most productive, and they’re only able to maintain their supervisory position by pressing their subordinates to be more productive.
“The emphasis seems to be solely on productivity than on quality. And that’s what causes investigators to burn out.”
The other issue with a background investigation workforce that is 100 percent remote is the lack of institutional knowledge or experience. Many investigators burn out after just a year on the job, and in that time they never had the chance to truly learn the ropes from an experienced investigator.
“You learn a lot through interaction with your coworkers,” said Henderson. “It’s not enough to go to a four or five or even six week class to learn how to be a background investigator…you learn a lot from how other investigators have handled cases.”