The Security Clearance, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC) released the latest (December 2018) status report on the government-wide implementation of security clearance and background investigation reform efforts. The report provides tracking of milestones, current statuses, and key indicators and statistics on timeliness of investigations and backlog reduction. According to the report, the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) has reduced the investigation inventory from a record high of 725,000 last June down to 594,000 in December. That is an 18% reduction and the NBIB anticipates continued progress on the backlog as additional reform efforts are implemented. Additionally, an inadvertent result of the government shutdown was the fact that the agencies furloughed did not hire or submit new investigation requests for more than a month.

Looking at the numbers, there were no significant changes to end-to-end investigation processing times for security clearances. The fastest 90% of investigations for an initial Secret clearance took an average of 181 days. Initial Top Secret clearance investigations took an average of 378 days, and periodic reinvestigations for Top Secret clearances took an average of 325 days to complete.

Another statistic in the charts I found interesting was the number of Department of Defense and Intelligence Community clearances holders with out-of-scope investigations. There are a combined 467,000 currently cleared folks who will need some type of reinvestigation within the next two years. How that will be addressed is yet to be determined. Most likely, continuous evaluation programs will be the preferred route going forward, instead of conducting lengthy and costly reinvestigations. But based on the chart provided by the PAC, since Q4 of 2017, the number of enrollees into CE has flattened. This likely points to the continued stall pattern, as OPM and DoD await a signed executive order to transfer all clearance investigations under the DoD umbrella.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.