DCSA Reports Improvements in Security Clearance Processing

Originally published at: https://www.clearancejobsblog.com/dcsa-reports-improvements-in-security-clearance-processing/

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) published the latest numbers for national security background investigation processing timeliness and showed a slight improvement from the last report released by the Security, Suitability, and Credentialing Performance Accountability Council (PAC) back in December 2019. According to DCSA, the average time to complete a Top Secret investigation is…


I would like to know what the start and stop points are for those timelines… I doubt very much that it starts when the applicant submits the eQIP and I doubt that the end date is when their security manager receives a notice in JPAS that the individual is eligible to be granted access.

Take that 56 days for a secret… that’s two months… stick two weeks on both ends you get three months, and that’s a pretty fast secret timeline as measured by the person waiting to be cleared.

(Actually I guess for the person waiting, six months still seems like an eternity :slight_smile: )

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I almost chocked on a cherry when saw the data.
I think those numbers for cleannest possible candidates who didn’t “live” the life yet – with no car violations, perfect references, no foreign contacts, no overseas travels, credit score 750+, 4.0 GPA (do they consider GPA?), poly past from first attempt and etc. etc. etc.

Submitted my paperwork in early March for a supposedly ‘priority’ TS. Just contacted the other day for my Subject Interview (so about 130 days later). No paperwork issues so far.

Sometimes people with squeaky clean backgrounds take longer than folks who do have a couple issues. I think there can be a certain element of luck, like maybe your case ends up waiting in a queue somewhere while someone else’s gets assigned right away.

And in a nod to our investigators, errors/omissions/falsehoods on the SF-86 will definitely slow things down.


My guess it starts when eQIP shows that it was sent to “Investigative Provider” or in other words “”investigation opened date” and ends on “eligibility determined date”. The time frame imo is for the best “no issues” cases…

Is this a back to the future thing? December 2020 hasn’t happened yet, right? Or has it?

Gotta go backwards to go forwards. It’s the government way.


It’s so crazy to me how different this process can be between applicants. I also submitted my paperwork in early march for a ts/sci, and just received my clearance a few days ago. Maybe they’ve made headway on your investigation and just saved the interview til the end?

Congratulations on obtaining a clearance. I submitted my paperwork mid January. Probably doesn’t help that I have a few Foreign contacts and lived and worked multiple states.

Here is just a personal observation from what I gather on this forum and from cases that have been previously adjudicated. I can see wait times or the length of the investigation move rather quickly if the person is highly sought after and has the STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) background.

This is just based on what other successful applicants have stated in their timelines.

I believe COVID has definitely speed things up for the easy non issue cases. No commute time and an abundance of sources and Subjects who are at home and always by their phones and happy to talk to another human has shortened the investigation time. The last several months I have had cases where the Subject fills out the paperwork one week and I am calling them for their interview days later. This is probably 80 percent of cases.
However, the government adjudicators could now be swamped and overwhelmed with completed cases. I do believe the complicated cases that indicated “in person” interviews would be more professionally appropriate are being sidelined for months until VTC is more available and in person interviews return. These cases are lingering and won’t be completed for a very long time.

It’s always a fact that the contractors who conduct this work prioritize the cases for investigator’s day to day based on financial incentives. (among other things) That’s just how it is when business handles security. Nobody really knows for certain how that effects delays.

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Honestly to me, this data makes no sense unless they elaborate more on what those numbers exactly mean. It’s been 290 days since I successfully submitted my sf-86. My case has been pretty normal and interview and poly already completed. No weird issues in my case that I know of.
Looking at other people’s cases and this forum and elsewhere, while some cases have been pretty swift, there’s no way in hell it’s 79 days between EQIP/SF86 submission and successful adjudication.

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Long time no chat/post here peeps. I submitted TS PR w/SCI upgrade March 30, 2020. I haven’t heard a pin drop from anyone. Left CACI in December doing background investigations due to lack of workload. Have had TS since 2001 and for this document control gig I need the SCI just to access the office.

The timer starts when DCSA “schedules” (accepts) the SCA. This is after the back and forth to get Subjects to just fill in the blanks. The time stops when adjudicated.

Keep in mind that if we process a million cases a year - the fastest 90% are 900,000 cases and 100,000 can be the outliers.

The other elephant in the room is that DCSA processes approximately 95% of all background investigations (old data, I don’t know the current workload) while 8 other ISPs (investigation service providers) do the remaining 5%. And … that 5% includes all DOS and most IC clearances. The agencies that are not measured by their timeliness and whom seem to be the majority of the long term Subjects in this forum.

I have often seen the SD in the week previously where I complete the case (T2/3/4/5) the next week, and seen the case is closed by review the following week. There is luck. There is investigator experience. There is also, most importantly, Subject and Source cooperation.

One to two week cases can be done, even if everystar and traffic light does not line up properly.

Can you elaborate on what you meant by “more professionally appropriate”? Are these cases more likely to be ones that just started or are near completion?

Lots of things language skills, serious complicated issues, individuals who request in person etc.