When it comes to security clearance process numbers, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is showing us how low they can go. The inventory of pending investigations is at 180,000, and security clearance processing times continue to improve. In a social media update published last week, DCSA noted they are meeting timeliness goals for Top Secret investigations – 80 days – “for the first time since Spring 2015.” The same announcement said Secret investigations average 56 days.
These are investigation timelines. Initiation and adjudication can still clock on a month or more to an investigation timeline, but the overall message is clear – processing times have improved dramatically.
Last week’s update from DCSA shows they’re expanding on prior gains. Overall clearance processing times figures released last month showed 119 days for a Top Secret clearance and 65 days for a Secret clearance, for the fastest 90% of investigations.
How Many People Need Security Clearances?
With processing times improving, NCSC Director William Evanina was asked an ongoing question in the security clearance process – do too many people have security clearances? At a recent webinar hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, Evanina noted current telework trends could cause the agency to reconsider who has and needs a security clearance, and who doesn’t. Evanina noted the government may absolutely reconsider its workforce needs, but didn’t necessarily advocate for fewer individuals obtaining security clearances. In fact, when asked for advice for people considering national security careers, he noted that obtaining a security clearance is a crucial step in the process.
But with clearance processing figures and inventory numbers at impressive lows, Evanina noted now is a time for security clearance reform efforts to consider the next iteration. With Trusted Workforce 2.0 in process, NCSC may begin considering what 3.5 and 4.0 may look like, he noted.
When it comes to the security clearance process, the focus remains on progress.