The Department of Justice is facing significant delays in security clearance processing times, delays which are leaving sensitive intelligence community positions vacant for months at a time, as agencies await clearance adjudication.

An Inspector General report released last week said the time to complete background investigations for public trust positions increased a whopping 92 percent, from 99 to 190 days.

Because of the demand for the individuals applying for these positions, agencies are frequently granting waivers to allow the individuals to work while their clearances are being processed, the report noted. In these cases individuals have access to sensitive information without a completed background investigation. Security clearance processing times have seen significant improvement over the past eight years, as agencies comply with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004. IRTPA requires agencies to complete 90 percent of background checks within an average of 60 days. Public trust investigations are covered by different guidance which requires adjudications to be completed within 90 days.

The IG report also alleged that the Department of Justice’s internal processes for tracking security clearance adjudications are inadequate. The agency’s use of waivers and the different policies surrounding public trust and national security positions made records keeping difficult. Data on the status of reinvestigations or background investigations was often incomplete.

The report didn’t make any accusations of actual breaches, leaks or security incidents taking place as a result of the clearance procedures, but did call current procedures inadequate in preventing a future incident. The agencies included in the report – including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency – said they would take immediate steps to improve the investigation and reporting process.


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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