Congress Aims to Cut Investigation Backlog to 300,000 by Next Spring

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In the continuing security clearance reform saga, the Senate Intelligence Committee is working on coming to an agreement on the final version of a bill first introduced in last March that is aimed at reducing the background investigation backlog. The previous version of the bill stalled in the senate during a June vote. If the…

The issue continues to be the difficulty in completing cases in the timelines set by Congress.

The field investigation process has not changed. The timelines for federal law enforcement agencies response for records have not changed. The security questionnaire intake has not changed. The rules for the federal agencies, DoD components, and contracting companies cooperation during the investigation have not changed. Reciprocity enforcement hasn’t changed. The investigation computer system processing system (PIPS) from the 1970s hasn’t changed. The funding hasn’t changed Only the demand that the work be completed quickly.

No one has seriously asked the field workers (agents or contractors) about the road blocks from the agencies and contract companies that requested the investigations, let alone from schools, medical providers, non-contractor employers, and non-federal law enforcement agencies.

Basically, “legalizing” these arbitrary deadline dates is similar to a beating the mule for not properly plowing the 100 acre farm in one day. If Congress wants a clearances in 30 to 90 days, then give the investigating agency the teeth (cooperation laws), funding (IT and manning), and tools (processes) to gather the information quickly.


It almost sounds like a move from “may issue” to “must issue” . . . If you can’t find enough negative material on a candidate in 30 days, your really not likely to find much going forward. The way to make the dates more realistic to push forward those files that are unlikely to be denied to the front of the queue and get them out of the way quickly. We learned in logic and computer science that the way to reduce the average time spent waiting is to process the shorter jobs first and make the others wait instead of processing first in, first out.

If you have two files and one will take two weeks to process and the other two month, it makes no sense to make the first wait for the second to complete before starting it.

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As a former investigator, I guarantee you nothing has changed on the administrative and company side. All they are going to do is tell the investigators to hurry up and do the base minimum to get the cases out. Corners will be cut.

I predict there will be NEW HEARINGS on why the process as being put forward hasn’t worked. Just give it a year.

I also predict that there will be new hearings about why people with serious integrity, behavioral, foreign, and criminal issues are getting clearances.

The process can be improved. We can even do it intelligently if we tried to build the process up instead of down.

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