The security clearance process consists of three phases – initiation, investigation, and adjudication. If your security clearance background investigation is done, you may be wondering why you don’t have the answers you’ve been waiting for. It comes down to the final step in the process – adjudication.

During the initiation phase of the security clearance process, you complete your SF-86 or security clearance application. This is the process you have the most control over, so be sure to fill out the form accurately and completely to help speed up the process.

In the investigation phase, the information you submitted in the form is – you guessed it – verified and investigated. For a Secret clearance, if there aren’t issues outlined in your responses, most of the investigation can be done through automated checks and little investigator work is needed. You may not need to do an interview, either. The investigation will take more time if you need a Top Secret clearance, or if there are any issues in your SF-86 that need to be researched – such as verifying foreign travel, following up on drug or criminal conduct issues, or settling discrepancies or inaccuracies in the form.

The background investigator is not the one who makes the security clearance determination. They pass along their packet to an adjudicator, who then makes the determination based on the adjudicative guidelines. An adjudicator looks at the information provided on the form, and makes a determination of eligibility based on the whole person concept. The good news is adjudication is much, much shorter than the investigation phase in most cases, typically taking only a few weeks.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer