The Defense Security Service (DSS) has been a part of the push to address the 500,000+ backlog in pending security clearance investigations. For more than a year, the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) has been attempting to hire more background investigators to handle the caseload. In January DSS announced it was pushing back Tier 5 (Top Secret) clearance periodic reinvestigations to every 6 years, to help address the backlog.
Yesterday DSS posted a notice on its website that from Monday, June 19 through Tuesday, July 4, Personnel Security inquiries would be suspended to help the Personnel Security Management Office for Industry (PSMO-I) focus on processing the inventory of investigation requests.
The memo promised, “an anticipated substantial improvement to timelines for processing initial investigation requests and relative improvement to requests for periodic reinvestigation.”
The security clearance backlog is an increasing pain point for industry. With top secret security clearance investigations stretching to over 500 days for industry, many leaders have called the timelines, unsustainable.
The NBIB continues to push for more background investigators to do the job, while the DSS remains plagued with funding issues as it meters payment for investigations to be completed. Attempts to bust through the backlog thus far have largely been stop-gap measures to keep the numbers from climbing up, rather than true reforms to push the overall timelines down.
NBIB Director Charles Phalen has repeatedly stated that it isn’t the backlog itself that’s the problem, it’s the timelines. If NBIB can begin processing investigations more efficiently, the number of pending investigations won’t matter. But the issue with today’s backlog is there seems to be inconsistency in how pending cases are moved forward, with some recently submitted investigations already processed, and others languishing with no updates. A frustrated job applicant recently posted the following at the ClearanceJobs Discussions site:
“I am just having problems staying enthusiastic about working for a system that seems to have so little regard for organization, time and policy.”
The June-July two week suspension of the PCL knowledge center may pose a headache for applicants looking for an update during that window. But DSS hopes it will be good news for other pending applicants who will see their investigations finalized during the two-week push.