Regardless of how you feel about 2020, it has been a good year for the world of security clearance processing, in stark contrast to what 2015-2018 had to offer. Personnel security issues included a significant decrease in the cleared talent pool in the wake of Edward Snowden, the OPM hack, background investigation delays, and contract challenges within OPM. In 2017, the backlog of pending security clearance investigations rose to more than 700,000, frustrating many people working in national security. As of March 2017, the processing timeline for a Top Secret clearance took over 450 days, which was more than six months longer than it took a year prior.

Sifting through the archives, this edition of Ask CJ comes from a subscriber who was counting the days until his clearance was adjudicated in the height of the backlog:

“It has been 272 days since I have been waiting for my clearance. Anyone want to sound off on how long you been waiting?”

The numbers are astounding! And as we reflect on where we’ve been, it gives us a sigh of relief that we are still not in the backlog position today.



While most of the commenters were anywhere between 150 days to almost 500, 700+ days for a security clearance adjudication was the winner (or loser, depending upon how you look at it).


Waiting for your security clearance to be adjudicated so you can start working on classified projects is a nail biter, but patience is key. As long as you were honest on your SF-86, mitigated any concerns you may have with the security clearance adjudicative guidelines, worked through the background investigation interviews smoothly (along with your references), there is not much you can do to move the process along.

If you are interested in understanding the status of your current situation, we would recommend reaching out to a Facility Security Officer with your employer (or a former one you feel comfortable with) who would be able to look up your personnel file. You may not be searchable yet if you’re still in waiting, but if it’s easy enough to make a call and check the status, that could ease your peace of mind.

Obtaining a copy of your security clearance investigation could also require submitting a Privacy Act request to a specific agency.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. However, it also creates a  lot of questions for applicants. For this reason, ClearanceJobs  maintains – a forum where clearance seekers can ask the cleared community for advice on their specific security concerns. Ask CJ explores questions posed  on the ClearanceJobs Blog forum, emails received, and comments from this site.


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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸