Are timelines different for direct hires vs contractors?

I see some instances of people going for the same clearance where the contractor is waiting for over 2 years, but the direct employee is cleared in roughly 1 year.

Is it confirmation bias, or is there an actual difference?

I have no proof but I think there is a difference.

Consider also that some IC agencies use their own investigators to do background investigations on direct hire staff but leave contractor clearances to OPM.

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Im sure they priortize by job too, as well as source.

Oh, I didn’t know they used OPM for contractors too!

My SSO/FSO stated that mine is done by the client and I am contractor (going for another contract). I specifically ask if OPM has it and they said the packet is with the client… and I am not allowed to know the client until I’m approved. (Well, if I don’t get my clearance I won’t be anything;)


I would expect that it’s confirmation bias. You can almost never compare the path that two people take to their clearance. When I see people posting their timelines (I used to do it to) it makes me laugh because there is far too little information.

While I agree that there probably are cases that are truly expedited, you have to look at everything from how well the SF86 was filled out and what potential pitfalls there are in the applicants past to how easily employers are contacted, how quickly replies come back, moves, changing personnel and too many other things to list.

Ed is right on variables. One guy clears fast as he never moved and has no issues. Another guy moved a lot, has a few items needing looked at…DoD moves fast, but like Squirrel said they have hands on control mostly. But the basics must be covered. I normally get a routine full TS clearance in 18 months to 24 months. I don’t bother asking about it until deep into month 19.