The National Background Investigations Bureau reports on current clearance processing times for Department of Defense industry contractors. Based on the reports from the end of 2017, the figures show that wait times are getting worse.
Top Secret clearance processing times for the first quarter of 2018 were 534 days, and 221 days for Secret and Confidential security clearances. Even though security clearance and secret reinvestigations processing times have leveled off and are sitting at around 220 days, Top Secret reinvestigation processing times are now at 617 days.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence told the Senate Intelligence Committee the fastest 90 percent of Top Secret background investigations government-wide took an average of more than 300 days. Depending upon how they slice it, we know defense industry applicants can expect to wait more than six months longer than a government clearance applicant.
The increasing delays for Top Secret initial and periodic reinvestigations pose challenges, both for attracting cleared personnel, and for the mobility and career progression of clearance holders up for reinvestigation but who currently seek a new position. In-demand professionals are simply unwilling to wait, unpaid, for the time it takes to process a Top Secret security clearance.