Clearing Up Confusion on the DoD Investigation Process

After hearing and seeing a large quantity of confusion I figured I would write a post about clearance investigations in the DoD.

The investigation process is finally being overhauled due to the backlog of over a million investigations. The DoD is switching from relying on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to perform their clearance investigations to the Defense Security Services (DSS) and Part of this change involves the new Continuous Evaluation (CE) system to replace reinvestigations.

The CE system involves an automated system that pulls multiple databases such as the FBI database and the credit companies for derogatory information on individuals with current clearances. If derogatory information is found by this system it is then flagged for human review to determine if the information is factually accurate and the severity. Once it has been determined to be a legitimate concern it will be forwarded to the Central Adjudication Facility (CAF) for dissemination to the individuals owning security official and for action. The security official will notify the individual in question and will gather the information asked of them by the CAF. Once this information is provided to the CAF, they will proceed to adjudicate based on the 13 adjudicative guidelines, whether the member reported this information prior to the CAF notifying his security official, many other factors.

The CE process will greatly reduce the amount of investigations needed in theory, bringing clearance processing times back down to an acceptable time frame. This will also likely get rid of T5R and T3R investigations. This process has already started being implemented, beginning with contractors and slowly phasing to the rest of the DoD.

In closing, this switch from OPM to DSS and the CE system will hopefully improve the investigation process dramatically and will break further into evaluating a person’s clearance eligibility based more on the whole person concept rather than scraping the the surface of an individual’s life to determine clearance eligibility.

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It seems difficult to say this is replacement for T5R and T3R because what about the info that CE cannot reach. Have you personally seen T5R/T3R actually deferred recently because of CE?

Yes, they have recently been cancelling a large amount of contractors T5Rs after about a month give or take after opening. As soon as they do this there is a JPAS message sent with the individual referenced stating the member has been switched to the CE system as per SECDEF guidance. The CE enrollment date then also updates in DISS as well.

CE in theory is much better than the current investigations as they let a large amount of people slip through the cracks due to rubber stamping and lying friends/coworkers. It also puts a lot more work on the security teams as we have a heavy requirement now to report most everything through DISS for adjudication as it occurs if it fits the 13 adjudicative guidelines.

How will CE work once enrolled? Do you still submit an updated sf every 6 years or once enrolled, or is it a lifetime membership kind of thing?

That I am not 100% sure of, from what I understand you won’t need to submit for anything unless you have no been in a position that requires your clearance for awhile or if you are going to work for an agency as they usually do their own investigations/adjudication. So for the most part, as long as you are using your clearance you will retain it.

Gotcha. So after enrollment and you’re still working in your position indefinitely, there’s never another excitingly long SF?

Supposedly, we will have to see what actually come to fruition. As you know, they always seem to change their mind!

There is no confusion, these topics have been discussed at length on our main site and here on the blog site:


This will be good at identifying individuals with issues that manage to still get a clearance. However, I think this will really impact the investigators and their numbers will decrease.

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Hopefully. Maybe. Ish. For those of us who have been in this industry for a few decades…“we’ve heard all this before. Many times.” I will believe it when the backlog falls to under 100K.

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Will be interesting to see how much exactly the CE covers, i.e. how much depth will it have.

I wonder how issues like foreign contacts and unexplained affluence are supposed to be revealed. Social media I guess, but anyone with bad intentions is going to use a fake name or have the account set to private.

Drug use? Alcohol abuse? Behavioral concerns such as violence, anger issues?

With the loss of talking to people, seems like a lot could get lost.


All of this is the job of the security officials to report to the CAF, kind of passes more responsibility to the boots on the ground. Kind of like the small unit leader method.

Cool mod. But does your news article reply to individual questions to cover all facets of the new process in multiple ways?

If one asks then a reply will be given, however, as a security professional there are some things that are FOUO and internal to an agency that are not for public consumption.

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@Marko, I have an question for you… besides the obvious answer, why is there a disconnect between recruiters and security with respect to clarity given to applicants? Ie, where they (applicants) are in the process.

Different goals: a recruiter’s main focus is to fill quotas/positions while security makes sure bad eggs don’t get through the system.

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Totally different departments with separate metrics. Much like my earlier battles with HR for this client. They saw a positive metric in how many interviews I conducted and how many SF86’s I submitted. They wanted very high numbers. Problem was clearly half were eliminated. So I looked at it as my metric…to eliminate anyone I could not get cleared. We butted heads for 7 years as she kept trying to drive her metrics higher than mine. Long story short, I overcame and she was removed. Now I rarely if ever get a rejection or denial. I eliminate 40% of those I interview. But when I submit the SF86…that person has a 99.9% chance they are getting through the review, be it NACS or BI.


@amberbunny and @Marko, it’s frustrating as a “first timer” that there’s NO real way know where one stands in the process with respect to reaching out to your recruiter.

But I get it now. There’s not much you can do, but set and forget it (see what I just did there?)…lol.

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Over a year later, but for anyone else that might reference this page, see this comment and ask the same question…

The background investigation process has to be insulated. If recruiters/managers were to have an open line of communication on the process/adjudications, it would compromise the integrity of the investigation and many questions would be raised regarding outside pressure from stakeholders/upper management that “need this person yesterday”. Additionally, if recruiters were to have an inside scoop on the adjudicative process, there would surely be unfair hiring practices as many recruiters would want to drop candidates that deserve due process in favor of other candidates that have less issues to work through.

Delineation of the two sides is shown through the pre-screen process which is usually initiated by HR but completed by Security, with the specifics of the results kept in-house with Security but the final “yes” or “no” relayed to HR and then to the Candidate.