Security clearances were certainly in the news in 2018 – from debates about White House security clearances to criticisms of the number of pending background investigations, the personnel security program was mired in controversy. Which headlines caught your attention on ClearanceJobs in 2018? Here’s a round-up of what generated the most interest.

1. How Long Does it Take to Process a Security Clearance? (Q1 2018)

The first quarter of 2018 ushered in more lengthy delays for processing Top Secret security clearances – up to 534 days. While Secret clearances saw some improvement (221 days), the figures are still far above the goal.

2. How Much Does a Security Clearance Cost?

There is a common and prevalent misconception that security clearances cost individual candidates or companies money – but the fact is all investigation costs are completely covered by the government. Private companies still face the costs of maintaining a personnel security program, and cleared employees still see value in maintaining a clearance – but investigations themselves are a 100% government expense.

3. Top Reasons for Clearance Denial in 2017

Financial considerations resulted in 1,497 security clearance denials. That’s more than triple the amount of denials for any other single issue. The bottom half of all issues resulted in just a few hundred security clearance denials combined. And allegiance to the United States wasn’t a consideration in any security clearance denial. (Wondering what caused the most clearance denials in 2018? The figures were just released here).

4. In Spite of the President, Federal Employees May Still Get a Pay Raise

As congress continues to (not) act or come to a compromise on the border wall, President Trump has issued an executive order to freeze pay for federal workers. This decision occurs amid “two simultaneously occurring trends” – low federal employee morale and one of the fastest growing U.S. economies of the past century.

5. The Do’s and Don’ts of a Background Investigation Interview

If you’re applying for a Top Secret security clearance, or if there are any issues to address in your Secret security clearance, you should expect to be interviewed by a background investigator. Keep in mind the personal subject interview (PSI) is a critical part of your background investigation – and an opportunity. Here are the do’s and don’ts.

6. Russian Search Engine and Facebook Align: What Could Go Wrong

What could possibly go wrong with a partnership between Facebook and the Russian search engine Yandex? A whole lot when viewed through the counterintelligence optic.

7. NBIB Releases New Report on the Status of the Security Clearance Backlog

The National Background Investigations Bureau released their first report in response to Public Law 115-173 (also known as the SECRET Act of 2018) and the numbers are staggering

8. The Looming Army Fitness Test Disaster

A retired paratrooper weighed in on the Army’s decision to revamp the AFT. Hint: He’s not a fan. “The test is designed to better simulate combat situations and reduce injuries. Only Mother Green could say in one breath, “We need to get rid of sit-ups because they might lead to lower-back injuries,” and in the next: “So we are adding dead-lifts to the fitness test.” And, hey, they sure found a way to make the test as expensive as possible! The ACFT requires a dead-lift bar and weights; medicine ball; a sled; two kettle-bells; a pull-up bar; and a stopwatch. I’m surprised they’re not requiring each unit to purchase a half-dozen $2000 Peloton bikes, too.”

9. Security Clearance Processing Times Continue to Creep Upward

Just when you thought security clearance processing times couldn’t possibly get worse – they got worse. In Q2 of 2018 Top Secret clearance process times climbed to 543 days, and Secret processing times climbed to 259 days.

10. DoD’s Defense Travel System Hacked, Employee Data Stolen

Just when you thought DTS couldn’t possibly get worse – it got hacked. Travel records and credit card information for as many as 30,000 employees were breached by one of the vendors who helps run the defense’s travel system.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.