We regularly post security clearance processing times at the news site, and we also regularly get feedback from readers complaining that their security clearance processing times are well lengthier than the average. Clearance processing times for DoD/Industry for Q4 2020 were 136 days for a Top Secret security clearance and 107 days to process a Secret security clearance. While we post these figures, we frequently get feedback from individuals who note that their clearance processing times are well beyond those averages – why is that?
If your security clearance is taking well beyond 100 days, there may be a few factors at play. First, it’s worth noting that the clearance processing times figures reporting through the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA) are only for the fastest 90% of applicants. That means the 10% worst processing times numbers aren’t factored in – DCSA can literally chop off the processing times figures for those facing one, two, three-year delays.
The other thing to remember is what the numbers reported are frequently the DCSA/DoD numbers. Within the intelligence community, the entire onboarding process can be significantly longer. The entire onboarding process is generally at least a year for many IC agencies, and the clearance process follows suit.
The security clearance process is very dependent upon several factors – foreign influence and frequent moves are two of the factors that are more likely to delay the process. The other issue (and one that security clearance-holders can affect) is making sure your security clearance application is accurate. The more sloppy your SF-86, the longer your clearance process will take.
Steps to Take if You’ve Been Waiting for Your Security Clearance
If you’ve been waiting for your security clearance well longer than the average and don’t have a clear reason why (such as foreign influence or frequent moves), here are a few steps you can take:
- Contact Your FSO.
- Unfortunately, there is currently no way for individuals to check on their security clearance application on their own. Your FSO may have limited information, as well, but they should be your first line for information about your clearance status. Your FSO can also reach out to DCSA to inquire about status – if your application got lost on someone’s desk,
- Contact Your Member of Congress.
- One of the more unconventional but effective ways to speed up your security clearance is to reach out to your member of Congress. Believe it or not this is a constituent service, and a congressional inquiry has been known to move the needle if you’re one of those individuals who has been waiting more than a year. Make sure you have a paper trail for what you’ve already done yourself to determine the status.