Are You Experiencing Security Clearance Processing Delays?

In my interview I remember hearing those words “Mission Critical” as it pertained to my line of work. Is that a phrase that is just thrown around or is it actually serious?

Since a number of you have referenced getting into financial trouble while waiting for clearances/jobs to come through, I want to note that filing a Ch. 7 bankruptcy is no longer a big issue UNLESS you incurred the debt by living a lavish lifestyle, gambling, and something unsavory. Running up credit cards to stay afloat while unemployed (or underemployed) – or due to other unavoidable events such as a large medical expense – happens (and has happened) to a lot of us. In the fall of 2014, I finally landed a job after several years of looking and 800+ applications. I had freelance income during only one of those several years. Shortly after my then-employer got the application process started for my Secret clearance, I realized I’d need to file for a Ch. 7 or I’d go under financially. I went to our company’s security officer and explained my situation. He reassured me that none of my reasons for needing to file would disqualify me, so I proceeded to file with the assistance of a NoVa attorney (Robert Weed) who has decades of experience helping people with clearances (or who hope to get clearances). My bankruptcy was discharged in June 2015, and my Secret clearance was adjudicated in July. (I now have an interim TS.) Discharging your debts (federal student loans excepted) through a bankruptcy makes you far less of a security risk than if you’re drowning in debt – so it’s worth checking out before you lose everything.


Secret Clearance. EQip submitted 12/2016. Still have not heard anything.
Was informed by the case manager that investigation started on 3/29/2017.
I guess the backlog is worse than I thought. Took three months for just gathering
the paperwork for the investigation. Ridiculous.

My case manager told me that my investigation started on 3/29/2017.
I am expecting another 2 months before getting anything back.
I submitted everything around Dec 2016. So little, if anything at all,
was accomplished between DEC to March??? Frustrating.

Submitted forms January 2016. Interviewed July 2016. Investigation closed January 2017. Awaiting Adjudication since then…496 Calendar days to date since the forms were submitted. 354 for the investigation. 142 and counting waiting in adjudication. This is in the DMV area for an initial Secret Clearance.

FBI name Checks, from my experience are running long as well. I submitted my papaerwork (TS/SCI) Auguast 4, 2016. FBI name check was completed April 24, 2017. Interviews have begun, NACI has come back favorable, now waiting for the investigation to contiune and hopefully be completed soon.

Hi Sigad,
how were you notified about getting your fingerprints taken?

SF86 was submitted March of 2015. I was awarded interim-secret in July of 2015. Nearly two years later still waiting on TS. Was told by security officer that investigation had closed in 2015 but no decision had been made. My employer inquired this past March about the status and was told that they could not adjudicate at that time. Not sure what is going on…

I thought I would share my current situation:

Accepted a position with Northrop Grumman in February, which required a secret level security clearance.

March 12 2017: Submitted SF-86 for secret level clearance.
March 13 2017: Northrop Grumman Security received it, checks it and resubmits the form.

The last communication I’ve received from anyone was from NG on March 13 2017, which said:

The United States government will conduct your background investigation as outlined here.
Please take into consideration the average government processing time (120 days) before contacting the service center for status updates.
We will notify you when the process is complete. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.
Thank you,

It should be a clean application. This Tuesday will be the three-month mark. As far as I know, non of my references have been contacted.

My suggestion is to ask the company if there is work that you can start without cleanace. Get interim clearance. Or get another job while waiting. My SF86 started May 27th 2016. My reference was just interviewed last week.

Seems to be taking at least a year for final Secret clearances these days and @Jennynd’s timeline is not unusual at all. Even interims are taking 6-9 months.

Thanks, Jennynd. Was your application for a secret of TS clearance?

I currently have a job. So I am just staying put for now. I haven’t told anyone at work, so it’s just a little nerve-wracking. When I first read the email stating that the average processing time was 120 days, I thought that must be a worst-case scenario. Now I’m praying that it’s accurate.

Thanks, sbusquirrel. I really hope it doesn’t take that long. It’s really hard to believe that the US government would allow itself to become this broken. Is the backlog every going to decrease, or will it just keep growing forever?

When I interviewed in Feburary, they indicated that the security clearance would take one to two months, and after I was fingerprinted the security guy said ‘see you in two months.’ So this whole time I was thinking one to two months and assumed the ‘120’ day quote in the email was an exaggeration. Now, it’s looking like a gross understatement.

I’m reading 166 days, for Q4 last year, and This article suggest both 240 days and 288 days for a secret level security clearance. (I’m still not sure what to make of the discrepancy). and you and Jennynd are suggesting 1 year +.

I’ll wait until day 120 and then start bugging them.

When u read 240 and 288, those are business days. U change to Calendar days, it become over 1 year. Mine is security clearance for DOE.

Hi, Jennynd. I wasn’t questioning your timeline. I’m sure that if the average is somewhere between 240 and 290 days, the standard deviation must be quite large. Also, how do you know that they are business days? I would assume ‘day’ means calendar day. Any other type of day (business day, bank day, federal work day) should be specified.

I did not think u are questioning :slight_smile:… I got you are new here, that is why I try to explain. From what I read, 240 days is the average government employee . And 288 is for contractors (like u and me that are not employed directly by government. ) I knew because I have read every single posts here.

My package was submitted mid-August 2016. Interim Secret granted in mid-November 2016. Sill waiting on the full clearance. I have not heard from any one that I know indicating they have been contacted regarding me and the investigation.

I would voice caution against having unrealistic expectations and thus creating stress for yourself.

As a note, I am still waiting and have been for a total of 10 months since CJO. Significant portion of this time was spent simply “waiting in line” with no regard as to how “complex” or “simple” my case may be as there are limited human resources to go around for each step.

I think for exceptional cases, such as a exceedingly important positions (saw one ODNI guy go from CJO to EOD in 4 months this year), you see relatively quick paces, but even those are usually 3-6 months long at the best. Unless you are a political appointee that gets to cut in line, you’ll have to expect a year to two years just like everyone else.

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Good question. I don’t see it diminishing in the near term. Now, about 15 years ago, it was taking TWO YEARS to get a final Secret clearance. They managed to knock that down and just a couple years back, new employees were getting their initial final Secret in about 90 days, six months max. So they can dig out from a hole.

However, there are a few new trends. For one thing, these “public trust” investigations seem to be about as involved and in-depth as secret clearances used to be. Most if not all secret clearances seem to require a subject interview now. They’re talking about making the periodic update for Secret five years now instead of ten. All those increase the workload. And take a look at the investigator forums to see how the investigative workforce is being treated (at least the contractor side).

So expect this backlog to be around for a while

Is the process different now? Years back my husband roommates’ girlfriend works for CIA Was getting her top secret clearance. They interview the roommates but by phone. And I heard not everyone was interviewed. This time, it seems everyone on my reference got face to face interview, and all of them got interviewed. Is ther process also changed and that is why it is taking so long?