The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) hasn’t released a comprehensive review of the security clearance process—including the number of individuals who hold a clearance and clearance processing times—since 2015. Fortunately, it does still provide updates several times each year to the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Council (NISPPAC). At that most recent meeting it broke down a figure it typically doesn’t—the processing times for Intelligence Community contractors.
Unlike most government agencies, the Intelligence Community both manages its own personnel security program and conducts its own background investigations. And while the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) has faced the heat for a 700,000 case backlog and massive security clearance processing delays, it’s worth noting the much smaller Intelligence Community contract workforce is facing slower processing times of its own. The Intelligence Community lags behind the goals for timely clearance processing of both Top Secret and Secret/Confidential clearance investigations. Unlike the Department of Defense and other agencies, it is meeting its goals for periodic reinvestigations.
These times remain much closer to the goal, however, which is good news for applicants looking to begin a position with the Intelligence Community. The bad news? These figures represent only the fastest 90 percent of investigations, which means outlying cases may extend far beyond the metrics reported. Another consideration is Intelligence Community suitability—while the majority of positions with the Intelligence Community require a security clearance, many applicants will find themselves weeded out from consideration at the agency suitability stage.