Security clearance processing times continue to rise. Government contractors face particularly difficult processing timelines, thanks to a nearly one month halt in processing new investigations by the Defense Security Service. DSS officials told Fed News Radio they processed just 4o cases per day during the month of December, down from an average of 650 cases per day. The halt in processing was due to the stopgap continuing resolution, which didn’t ensure the agency proper funding.
Cases are again being processed as usual, but it will take time for the agency to recover from the backlog. And that’s bad news for government contractors looking to move new personnel into open positions. DSS estimates it will be six months before the backlog is completely eliminated.
OPM Suffering From Report Overload
This latest backlog comes as critics urge reform in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management breach. Many are completely questioning the current system of processing clearances. Change won’t be easy, and the latest OPM issues almost seem to compound the difficulties. In the wake of the Navy Yard Shooting, the government commissioned several studies on how PSIs were handled. The OPM breach caused the commission of a separate 90-day review, which seems to have overtaken the focus on investigations which sprang from the Navy Yard Shooting. New speculation is that the 90-day review will call for the creation of a completely new agency to oversee the security clearance investigation process, the National Investigative Service Agency.
Congress also took it upon itself to step in with security clearance procedure changes. The 2016 omnibus appropriations bill included the Enhanced Personnel Security Program, which directed agencies to monitor the social media sites of clearance holders twice every five years. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence still has to provide guidance to agencies on just how to do that, but if one thing is clear, it’s that someone needs to coordinate all of the disparate recommendations and requirements.