Why you should never tell the Subject you've completed your Report

This is a common theme on the discussion board on clearancejobblog:

“My investigator called/texted me and said they finished my report last week. Why is adjudication taking so long?”

There are two questions from the Subject that the agent/investigation can not answer: 1) when will the investigation be done 2) will the Subject get their clearance. The agent/investigator don’t know these answers for your case because they are not in “control” of the case, just a portion of the case.

Here is the generic process over view.

The Subject is excited because they get the “invite” to submit their National Security Questionnaire (SF85/eQIP/Aip/SCA). They pop on-line and complete the form. Please read the view-from-the-otherside-of-the-background-investigator-credentials/2701 post about normal submission problems.

Let’s be kind and say the Subject had help and filled out everything correctly for the Tier 5. This is the fieldwork unicorn.

Your case is processed through our computer system and work is assigned to either a federal team or one of the contractor teams and then by computer according to your case type and item zipcodes the investigation areas (think cities). Again, this is the unicorn, so the zipcodes are correct, the supervisors are still at the employments, residence verifiers are actually neighbors living in the neighborhood, education address/verifier information is correct (and the verifier remembers the Subject), reference information is current (and they are aware of the investigation and know you well the last seven years) and all issues were correctly listed.

The “machine items” are conducted by the computer systems and fed into the overall report of investigation. For example, credit reports and federal agency records. These records are reviewed for information by folks to create an item “report of investigation” and pertinent information is provided to the field investigators and review. There are no delays (or discovered issues) and every machine item is closed within twenty-four hours.

Meanwhile, the fed supervisor/contract work scheduler has a lot of capacity in all six field work areas, and they quickly assign out the work. A reminder, this is the fieldwork unicorn.

In the unicorn case, there has been 48 hours since the Subject submitted their case.

The fed/contract investigator in each of the six fieldwork areas had no other work assigned and were able to jump on the case the same day the case was assigned to them.

The Subject interview was completed, all employments, education, residence, court, law, and other required records and Sources were completed within twenty-four hours of the case assignment. Everyone cooperated and all required sources and records were easily obtained by the field worker. None of the issues required any additional records or source interviews. All six investigators type up and transmit their reports of investigation on the same day.

The investigation “accepts” the reports that night and the next morning the completed report is sent to a reviewer. Review for both the contractors and feds have clear plates so the report is reviewed the next day (there is at least an extra day involved if the case is reviewed by a contractor reviewer then a federal reviewer). There were no errors and everything in the report was clearly written. Nothing was sent back and nothing required additional fieldwork.

This is the end of the first week in the life of the perfect Tier 5 investigation.

The case is sent to adjudications the next working day. This is the end of the investigation portion.

There are a lot of moving parts to the field work and this is why no field investigator can tell the Subject that their case is completed – even if it closed by review. One area/investigator/item can delay the case. A triggered ESI might be, well, triggered. Sources don’t always cooperate or the information provided for contact is not correct. Adjudication can send the case back to DCSA (yes this creates an RZ for the reviewer) or they can schedule additional information


Great post.

I’ll be that person and say the best answer applicants can receive regarding their case status is the vague one: “Your case is currently being processed;” “Your case is in the next step of the process;” etc. Applicants WILL be contacted if additional information IS needed. If you are NOT contacted, you do NOT need to worry - no news is good news in this case. The process only works this way if applicants are kept in a vague state with regards to updates. Applicants do not need specific details regarding their case; security doesn’t work any other way.

Yep. Subjects seem to think their interview is the last step. Subjects also seem to think the Investigators are the adjudicators of their case.

I make it clear that neither are true.

I also make it clear during the beginning of the interview that I am not the adjudicator.

I also tell every subject that there are three questions I can not answer:

  1. will you get your clearance/job.
  2. how long will it take
  3. who i intend to interview.

Everything else i try to be pretty open about when talking to Subjects.


Follow up question: when I list three people “who know me best” and only two had been interviewed…why is that? Is there a reason behind interviewing certain people listed in SF86 but not others?

Number of references interviewed depends on several factors, case type, how long they know you, how well they know you, what information they provide.

So sometimes one reference can provide all that info, sometimes two or three.


Case integrity (not letting the Subject control the investigation) is the prime reason we do not automatically interview just the Sources provided by the Subject.

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