Each year the President is required by law[1] to submit an annual report to Congress on the current status of the US government’s security clearance process.  Recently, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), on behalf of the president, released its “2012 Report on Security Clearance Determinations.”

The brief report provides the total number of security clearances granted, currently held revoked, and denied, as well as in-depth metrics on the timeliness of these clearance determinations.   Some highlights are as follows:

The total number of security clearances held has increased marginally.   ODNI reports an increase of 1.1 percent since October of 2011.  This includes both government employees and contractors.

The majority of clearance investigations are completed with four months. This number holds true across all seven intelligence community agencies[2], and types of clearances (top secret, secret/confidential).   Rarely did investigations extend beyond eight months.

“Foreign Issues” are the single most common reason for delay.  “The intelligence community faces challenges in clearing individuals with unique or critical skills—such as highly desirable language abilities—who often have significant foreign associations that may take additional times to investigate and adjudicate,” the report states.

Collectively, more than 70 percent of clearances were delayed because of “Multiple Issues.”  Coming in second were “Financial” issues, which accounted for 11 percent of delays, and “Drug Involvement” at 1.8 percent.

The number of security clearances denials/revocations at each agency averages less than 5 percent.  The CIA denied about 4.9 percent of applicants; Dept. of State just 0.6 percent; and National Security Agency 5.7 percent.

Nota bene: While creating a single repository for all national security determinations is “not feasible,” ODNI is confident that the results compiled include only “minimal” instances of duplicate reporting.  This is because information mainly comes from only two repositories which account for 95 percent of the entries, which are specifically structured to eliminate redundancies.

[1] The Intelligence Authorizations Act for Fiscal Year 2010

[2] Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), National Security Agency (NSA), and Department of State.

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