The number of individuals with security clearances rose three percent last year, according to the 2011 Report on Security Clearance Determinations. The report is prepared annually by the Director of National Intelligence and reported to congress, although last year was the first year figures were compiled.

The number of cleared federal employees tops the number of contractors three-to-one, with over 3.5 million cleared federal employees and 1.1 million cleared contractors. The number of cleared contractors actually declined last year, while the number of cleared federal employees rose. The disparity is likely caused by both government insourcing, which has largely leveled off but is still occurring in some offices, as well as a decline in government contracts, as the defense industry braces for sequestration. There continue to be 320,000 clearance holders categorized in the “other” category – as neither government employees or contractors.

The report, obtained by Secrecy News, once again criticizes clearance processing times, noting that it took more than one year for more than 5,000 cases. The report also made clear that difficulty in clearance processing times is not equal across agencies, with the CIA demonstrating by far the highest number of clearances taking more than a year to adjudicate. The CIA had 3,755 cases that took longer than one year to adjudicate. In contrast the Defense Intelligence Agency had the next highest number of 374.

Among all agencies, those who had clearance processing times of more than a year once again listed financial issues, administrative issues or foreign influence as the top three individual reasons, while “multiple issues” were cited in the majority of delayed adjudications.

The report also gives insight into which agencies have the highest rate of clearance denials. Not surprisingly, the intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA, have the highest denial rates, at 5.3 percent and 8 percent, respectively. If you want to hedge your clearance bets, stick with the State Department, or FBI, who have denial rates well under 1 percent.


Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer