For the second quarter in a row, we see security clearance processing times on a continued upswing, with investigation inventory growing too. Current security clearance processing times for DoD/Industry are 170 days for Top Secret security clearance and 100 days for a Secret security clearance. These numbers continue to reflect the averages for the fastest 90% of applicants, something that will change in the future.

DoD/Industry Security Clearance Processing Times

clearance processing times

Security Clearance Inventory

The inventory numbers are increasing, with the investigation phase steadily climbing – especially for Top Secret security clearances. But Secret security clearance investigations have also climbed in FY 2023. Both Top Secret and Secret Investigations ended the year with over 18,000 in inventory, steadily increasing over the course of the year. However, adjudication inventory increased for both Top Secret and Secret security clearances.

inventory for investigations and adjudication

While security clearance processing times have made strides from the timelines of the past, it will take some more work to hit the recent benchmarks and ambitious goals set by the Office of Management and Budget. Although the current processing times fall short of moonshot targets, government officials continue to develop the capabilities to achieve these goals. As the government transitions to the National Background Investigation Services (NBIS), adopts eApp, and contends with cyclical changes, the path to cutting processing times and reporting on 100% of vetting decisions remains a nuanced journey that demands time and careful refinement of the TW 2.0 model.

The aspirational targets set for FY 2028 require capabilities that still have a ways to go. Achieving these targets is a gradual process, not an overnight transformation. Some quarters will show longer processing times than others. However, while those kinks continue to get worked out, federal contractors struggle to recruit and onboard talent in a timely manner. It makes those who already have a security clearance in hand shine a little brighter.


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.