Cleared professionals looking for jobs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may have to wait, reports say.  Delays in vetting the security of applicants and a backlog of polygraphs are to blame.

The average wait for DHS job applicants exceeds five months. While DHS department-wide hiring delays have increased in recent years—from 146 days in 2013, to 163 days in 2014—one sub-department, the U.S. Secret Service, slightly decreased its wait from 327 days in 2013, to 295 days in 2014.

According to Senators, “The hiring process remains a bureaucratic nightmare for many qualified applicants who have either given up or taken other positions by the time the offer is made, which merely compounds the agency’s hiring challenges.”

Despite this, DHS is actively recruiting full-time employees, and funding isn’t the problem: Congress has already appropriated money to pay for positions. Many positions remain open, and according to DHS, the department expected to end September 2015 with 6,000 fewer full-time employees than it had funds to pay for.

Many cleared professionals find work as civilians in DHS departments of U.S. Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, in particular.

In particular, Congress approved a roughly $100M ramp-up DHS’ cybersecurity employment efforts in fiscal year 2016. Much of the money will augment and support the cyber workforce at DHS, according to the report by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.  The “Cyberskills Support Initiative” is currently a leading effort to increase the department’s cybersecurity staff.

Congress is pressuring DHS to hire in greater numbers, and faster.  To “stem skyrocketing attrition and hiring shortfalls”, Congress  demanded the department to report monthly on the causes of hiring impediments, as well as to provide a plan of corrective action.

The first report on remedying the problems was due to Congress on January, 15, 2016.

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