I am often contacted by individuals who are waiting for a security clearance to be adjudicated. The National Background Investigations Bureau was established within OPM on October 1, 2016 and conducts 95% of the background investigations across the government. In late 2014, OPM’s market capacity for contract investigation services was drastically reduced by the loss of OPM’s largest field contractor, resulting in an investigative backlog. This backlog was exacerbated by the cybersecurity incidents at OPM that were announced in 2015. In FY2015, it took on average 95 days to process a secret clearance and 179 days for a top-secret clearance. In FY2016, it took on average 166 days to process a secret clearance and 246 days for a top-secret clearance.
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions received by my office:
Who can apply for a security clearance?
Individuals cannot apply directly for a clearance. If you are applying for a position that requires a security clearance, the employing company or agency must request the clearance and related background investigation. Once the investigation is completed, the application will be adjudicated, and the results will be communicated with the company’s or agency’s security officer.
How long will it take to complete the process?
Every application is different so there is no standard timeframe for completion of an application for a security clearance. Also, the type of clearance can impact the amount of time that is needed to complete the various background checks. Due to these reasons, the process can sometimes take a year or more for a new security clearance application to be adjudicated.
Can an application be expedited?
Usually it is not possible to expedite the adjudication of a security clearance, however my office can contact the appropriate agency on your behalf to ensure that progress on the application continues.
What are my options is my clearance is denied?
Usually you can appeal the denial of a clearance but you must be able to fully address any concerns that have been raised during the background check process. Due to confidentiality and possible security issues, the agency will usually not provide details to my office on the reasons the application was denied. You should discuss this with the security officer at your company or agency.
My staff is always available to assist you with issues that you may be experiencing with your security clearance application. However, there are limits to what I can do. I do not have the authority to expedite your case as a security clearance is considered a matter of national security and agencies thoroughly vet each applicant. I also do not have the authority to overturn any decision made to deny or rescind a security clearance.
If your question is not addressed above or if you would like my office to submit an inquiry on the status of your clearance, please complete my Privacy Release Form and return it to my district office. My staff will be happy to provide you with all possible assistance.