After showing improvement in the third quarter of FY 2018, security clearance processing times for Department of Defense industry applicants saw a slight uptick in the fourth quarter, with Top Secret clearance processing times at 459 days and Secret clearance processing times at 226 days. Processing times increased for both the investigation and the adjudication piece. The figures were released as industry and government partners gathered together for the latest National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) meeting.
It’s worth noting these times are well below the highs of FY 2018, when Secret, Top Secret and Periodic Reinvestigations reached new heights. Processing time improvements in Q3 were likely born out of the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) efforts to increase the size of its investigations workforce, along with piloting new initiatives including hubbing and new video teleconferencing (VTC) solutions for conducting background investigation interviews.
Despite process improvements industry representatives continued to express frustrations about the lack of information between the government and its industry partners, with a Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) representative stating, “If this committee can’t resolve things, what are we meeting for?” Several industry representatives were concerned that as the government continues to push forward with improvements including new Security Executive Agent Directives (SEADs), industry often only sees the policy once it is finalized.
Lack of communication was even an issue among government agencies, with representatives from the State Department noting that when it comes to personnel security, the focus is too often on DoD – at the expense of the many other agencies with a personnel security mission.
NBIB to DSS
Once again, representatives from the Defense Security Service (DSS) and NBIB noted that an executive order to transfer control of the background investigations mission is “eminent,” but no exact timeline for release was provided. DSS stated that it was moving forward with plans even as it awaits a final executive order, but it’s still unable to provide information on its new organization chart or appropriate POCs as the agency gathers together DSS, NBIB and DoD CAF under one umbrella, with a few new acronyms thrown in for good measure (including a Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency).