Fed Employee Stats

I read a lot here about contractors and how the process allegedly moves more quickly for Feds, so let me offer this to everyone. I am a Fed. A new clearance request (not an update) was submitted in Feb '17 for a higher level clearance, contact with employers started in APR '17, I was interviewed in MAY '17, and the investigation was closed in late JAN '18. More than 5 months have passed and the most the DODCAF will disclose is that it’s still awaiting assignment to an adjudicator.

One colleague got his TS in MAR '18 and said it took 15.5 months, which was supposedly very fast. Another colleague got his TS in about DEC '17, and that apparently took 20 months, which included the CAF requiring the investigator to ask follow-up questions before the CAF granted it about a month after receiving the responses.

I have a tentative offer on the table for another federal position that I think I’m about to lose it because I doubt if they’ll wait more than a few months. I’m deeply troubled by the failure of the CAF to provide any truthful data regarding timelines or make more detailed data available regarding where one sits in the process relative to norms/averages. We, the ones who voluntarily disclose everything about ourselves, should receive some sort of courtesy so that we can make informed decisions about our lives. If the issue is one of resources, then those who run the CAF should say the backlog is x months or years because of a lack of resources.

The process has problems, but the system, to include all of those running it, is materially broken. People are treated so poorly that one has to start asking if it’s worth working for the government. I very much doubt that we’ll ever see this problem fixed until there’s a total collapse, to include companies saying they’ve had enough and Feds simply walking-away. Communication is usually the first step to fixing this type of problem, but DoD has elected to engage in secrecy and subterfuge. It’s sad. Ironically, one has to question the trustworthiness of those who are in-charge of the process to assess the trustworthiness of everyone else.

Hi, I am a Fed as well. I have received a tentative offer as well. Did your offer state that your clearance has to be completed before on boarding?

Please advise because if that is the case then no way am I going to wait, I retire in 5 years.


The process is frustrating. I imagine a lot of solid Feds end up walking away and taking another job. Private pays a lot more too, at least in my field.

There has been a lot of talk about implementing the new EO’s freezing pay and firing employees in 30 days. As I am sure you are aware, this rule will be arbitrarily enforced and probably accelerate the brain drain of skilled fed employees. Like private, fed solutions are sometimes worse than the original problem.

I am a Fed too and my TS/SCI upgrade took a little over 27 months. It seems the actual investigation and adjudication was completed in about 5 months but the investigative file sat idle for about 22 months. (I wasn’t interviewed until the 22 month mark and the INV said it appeared nothing had been done with my file and this interview was the first step.) As frustrating as the wait can be, I don’t believe that the blame can be assigned to the CAF in most cases.

Since reporting only accounts for the fastest 90% of cases, that leaves a significant number of people that are in the 10% which take more time than the reported numbers. I suspect that the overall numbers would look rather poor if NBIB were to report on 100% of the cases. I further expect that a significant number of the people on this board are in that 10% so the anecdotal reporting we see here is somewhat skewed. Also, it seems clear that the majority of time is taken up in the investigative process rather than the adjudicative phase: something that CAF may have some influence in, but no control over.

Certainly, some applicants walk away from job offers due to the long wait however, based on the number of qualified applicants for every job vacancy my agency posts, we are in no danger of not filling those positions with highly qualified applicants.

Just my musings on this lovely Friday morning :slight_smile:

Totally get the frustration. But each individual is different. Add to the equation a different investigator, senior case manager, adjudicator with varying temperaments…occasional operational surges requiring others to clear ahead of you…it is hard to pin anything down to a specific issue. I would like to see a process where each step has a set amount of time to hold a package. If there is an issue actively under investigation it can be held longer, but simply awaiting enough adjudicators would not be acceptable. Move out the ones without issues and hold back the ones with an issue. Maybe set a rule of 3 extensions on ones with an issue. They either make the case or they cannot make the case. If they know via metrics 65% of the people with your issue turned out to be spies…okay hold them back for further look. But if all else is okay…and no metric to support holding it back…pass it on to next level.

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I’m with you Amber . . . When you consider the economy of the last 12 years or so, there are plenty of solid people who got into trouble. Foreclosures, lates, bankruptcies, etc. All of these things affected millions of hardworking people and adjudicators could save a lot of time and energy by taking that into consideration like they have with light, youthful drug use.

The same goes with SOME foreign contacts . . . The world is smaller . . . I’m a photographer and I have made “friends” with other photographers all over the world. I had to sit and explain this to an investigator . . . Yes, I’m friends with a lot of people on Facebook who I don’t really know.

These things need to be taken into account in the guidelines in order to prevent the number of hearings and appeals where the applicant is bound to win.

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Absolutely. Join a Facebook page for photography and you link up with dozens of talented people you do not know but admire their eye for imagery. I’m a huge fan of black and white photos so I too have several FB folks I hit the “like” button for. Am I the target of a long term elicitation…perhaps. Doubtful. But clicking like should not cause a person to end up in purgatory for 27 months as we often hear claimed. And yes when the economy nosedived and homes in the DC region dropped from 800K to 400K and you had to move…a lot of great people suffered.

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My offer stated that it’s contingent on receiving a clearance. My current position requires the same level of clearance, but I was allowed to start without it. I’m much closer than you to early retirement eligibility and am ready to call it quits.

As I see it, DOD has been gleefully permitting this gross failure to continue. The Director and Dep Dir of the CAF have remained the same since 2013. There is no accountability and a total disrespect for human beings.

It’s not merely disheartening, but disgraceful.

Thanks for your service. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

If in the private sector, all these goof ball managers at opm/nbib would have been fired.

Dave019 - there are not many goofball managers at NBIB to toss out.

@backgdinvestigator - The agency you work for is failing its mission, period. How can you even argue the notion that your leaders aren’t goof balls and failures? Do you see professional sports teams who fail to win year after year keep “key” players and current managers? No, and there is a reason they don’t. I’ll let you figure out why that is.


My experience is that it’s not NBIB. Yes, it is indeed taking a significant amount of time to complete investigations, but agencies do know when they are completed because the date is entered into JPAS. Now in some cases there might be a need for an adjudicator to request additional information, but agencies still now when the initial investigation was completed. Contrast this with the DODCAF, which conceals the true amount of time it holds files prior to adjudication. It faces a 30 days standard for adjudication for TS clearances. It publicly lists that it’s taking about 20 days. At first glance it looks like the CAF is performing wonderfully. However, it’s a fraud. The CAF is not reporting how many months files await assignment to an adjudicator. In fact, it’s generally taking about 6 months to more than 2 years in some cases. It’s the Director and Dep Director of the DODCAF who should be held accountable through termination. Moreover, there should be a complete investigation regarding this fraudulent public reporting and all involved held fully accountable. It seems like dishonesty and a lack of transparency are the rule of the day in DOD for something that should be publicly reported. It’s also a gross disrespect for all those who voluntarily submit themselves to the clearance process. The government assesses whether individuals are trustworthy, but it’s the government that’s not trustworthy. This is highly troubling.

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It is possible to faithfully meet the metric month in and month out yet still be a complete failure. The VA waiting game scandal comes to mind. Yes they were meeting timelines. But they interpreted timelines in a manner that was technically not telling a lie. And patients died. Eventually this fraud was revealed and key people were removed. There have been improvements but other bad areas remain as in any bureaucracy. In and of itself is the reason I lean towards the over report vice “strict legal interpretation” report. This is how metrics can still be manipulated to make people think yo are hitting the target when you are nowhere near the target. I recall when Total Quality Management took hold in the Air Force. Lots of training. Lots of metrics. Didn’t take long for every office to manipulate definitions of the metric to make it look as if they were exceeding the standards. They were hiding all kinds of bad stuff in this manner. TQM died a terrible death for them. Metrics are good as long as the right people are designing and interpreting them. Let the fox watch the henhouse and I guarantee egg production remains high…it is in their interest to keep chickens.


Well said, Amberbunny! :slight_smile:


We are not failing our mission. We do thorough background investigations for public trust and national security positions. Someone from the outside who only cares about getting a job they may or may not be qualified, might be impatient but every court has determined that a clearance, and working for the federal government, is not a right.

The professional team analogy doesn’t even remotely apply. National security is not a game for entertainment. Our failures are measured in those we don’t catch before they gain access, not by how many widgets we can push through the system where the rules are created by others (i.e. DoD).

Better luck on your “research” and analogies in the future.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the rank and file, the investigators and adjudicators, are the problem. I think that they are doing their job and doing it well. But, that doesn’t mean that the process isn’t failing.

Understand, the total job isn’t just to weed out those who should not have a clearance OR to help those who are qualified get through the process and get to work. The job also includes providing government agencies with a supply of qualified, skilled, cleared workers to do the jobs that needed to be done. That’s where the process fails from the government side.

Your job is made more difficult by a number of things. On the one hand, you are understaffed for the workload that is being pushed into the funnel. On the other, I think that too many jobs are requiring clearance. This brings too many people into the process.

I also think that the adjudicators are a little out of control. Just my view from the outside, I think that they are denying clearances and sending out SOR’s in cases where they should be able to figure out the a judge will side with the applicant. This is mostly happening with financial issues where applicants who got caught up in the financial crises and the poor economy of the last ten years are being made to jump through hoops explaining things that happened to millions of Americans.

Just my two cents . . .

@backgdinvestigator - Cute, you think your agency is accomplishing its mission. Show me proof that you are, then explain the backlog, and then also explain to me how the government isn’t detering skilled people from applying to the federal civil service due to the backlog.

I’ll answer for you, essentially, your agency is failing the American people by keeping very qualified people from applying to the civil service because they don’t feel like waiting two years for a background check. This is ultimately counterproductive to promoting an effective and efficient civil service.

To add, my analogy is relevant. You’re right that national security isn’t a game of entertainment rather its measured by success and failure. Can you guess another type of organization that is judged by its success and failure? Pro sports teams! That’s why teams like the Yankees are world renowned, as they’ve had great success throughout their tenure.

I think we’ve all agreed on this board that the problem is multifaceted. It’s the culmination of decades’ long practices being challenged in the present day.

Adjudication is a tough thing to debate. The executive has a significant amount of discretion. The precedent has always been—and I’ve said it plenty of times—that the information developed during the course of the investigation needs to be clearly consistent with the interests of national security… that adjudicative decision is all up to the executive agency and the judiciary has no say. And then there’s the issue of the backlog being a threat to NATSEC… and so there’s always going to be some exercise in balance between the interests of the American people and NATSEC. Whether or not that balance is reasonable? We’ll have to let the folks and wonderful attorneys in DC figure that out.

What do you mean, “the judiciary has no say”? They hear appeals, from both sides, and make final decisions. The problem is that there doesn’t appear to be any repercussions for adjudicators when they are overturned. I strongly suspect that they often reject candidates in order to push the decision off to the ALJ.