Have you been in limbo while awaiting your security clearance investigation? The National Background Investigations Bureau is making progress, officials said during a congressional hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in early February.
You might take comfort in knowing that although there’s still a backlog, officials say the system is more secure than ever, FCW reports.
The NBIB officially launched on Oct. 1, 2016 to replace Federal Investigative Services, and it has a backlog of more than 500,000 investigations.
In addition to the backlog, the NBIB is plagued with lengthening clearance processing times, according to Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who serves as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He noted during the hearing that the average processing time for a secret clearance during Fiscal Year 2015 was 95 days, and 179 days for top-secret clearance.
In FY 2016, those processing times increased to 166 days for secret clearance and 246 for top-secret clearance, according to FCW.
To combat that, the NBIB hired 400 new investigators in 2016, and plans to hire an additional 200 in 2017. The NBIB also entered into contracts that began on Feb. 1 with two firms to carry out investigations, according to the Office of Personnel Management’s Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan and NBIB Director Charles Phalen.
One investigation area that could make it difficult to streamline the length of investigations is social media. We wrote in June 2016 about Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signing the Security Executive Agent Directive 5 on May 12, which established investigative authority to consider public social media information in the security clearance process.
Phalen reported during the February hearing that NBIB ran a brief pilot study to evaluate how social media could be incorporated efficiently into the investigations process. Although collecting the information was easy, analyzing it proved time-consuming and became more difficult the more data that existed, according to the FCW article.
Applicants for security clearance are limited in what they can do to make the investigation process go more quickly. However, a key factor is completing the SF-86 form accurately, says Catie Young, an attorney who specializes in security clearance law. Hiring an attorney who has experience in this legal area can help ensure that you complete the application properly the first time.