The question most security clearance applicants ask after submitting their application is – how long is it going to take? And while both the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (which processes approximately 95% of all security clearance applications), and the Intelligence Community do actually release some version of their processing times averages, those times have always been only the fastest 90% of all applicants.
But in an announcement made at a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing at the end of March, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) noted that moving forward clearance processing times would include not just the fastest 90% of applicants -but all applicants, including the ‘troubled’ cases – who always seem to be the people you actually hear from.
In addition to improving the transparency of the numbers, the government is looking to improve the timelines themselves, reducing the benchmarks by nearly half, to 40 days for Secret clearance investigations and 75 days for Top Secret clearance investigations. The idea is that as the vetting process becomes more streamlined, and enabled through better technology thanks to the National Background Investigation Services (NBIS), the government should be able to assess risk and onboard new clearance applicants more quickly.
Can we have a better security clearance process, faster? Government leaders are banking on a ‘yes,’ and security clearance applicants are hoping for the best.