Big Declines in Security Clearance Determinations

Posted by Rob Riggins

2014 Report on Security Clearance DeterminationsODNI recently released its 2014 Report on Security Clearance Determinations, which details individuals holding a clearance as of October 1, and the number of individuals approved or denied a clearance during the fiscal year. For a second year the numbers reveal an across the board decrease in both numbers.

While there is certainly a downward trend what is hard to determine is how much of this trend is due to an improvement in data quality vs. a true reduction. Likely it is both, but what the proportions are no one really knows.

Decline in Security Clearance Holders

The total number of clearance holders holding a Confidential or higher security clearance declined by 12.3 percent or 635,803, from 5,150,379 in 2013 to 4,514,576 in 2014.

According to the report, “these decreases were the result of efforts across the government to review and validate whether an employee or contractor still requires access to classified information and several additional Depart of Defense (DoD) initiatives to review its cleared population.”

Reporting metrics for the report should be more accurate in the future as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the National Counterintelligence and Securit Center’s Special Security Directorate (SSD) are working together to eliminate duplication and to have all clearance records in ODNI’s Scattered Castles (SC) in FY2015.

security clearance eligibility


The “government” category includes all government employees and military personnel. Contractors include all industry employees, independent contractors and consultants. The “other” category includes the number of cleared government and contractor personnel reported in CVS, which does not have an employee type field, and the number of individuals in JPAS and Scattered Castles for which the employee type category field was not complete.

Decline in Security Clearance Approvals

This number is a bit confusing because it includes both initial investigations and periodic reinvestigations, but the trend is clear – a 14.4 percent reduction in approvals from FY2013 to FY2014.

Security Clearance Approvals

Intelligence Community Performance

As part of the report ODNI asks for the seven IC agencies with delegated authority to conduct investigations and adjudications to provide results on processing timelines, pending investigations and denial rates.

The NSA has the highest denial rate for initial cases at 9.2%, while the NGA has the highest rate of revocations or denials of periodic reinvestigations at 2.2%. But take these with a grain of salt as they are not apples to apples comparisons across agencies due to different reporting methodologies.

Nicole Smith, attorney and security clearance expert with Tully Rinckey PLLC and frequent presenter at Cleared Job Fairs, expects that more in-depth investigations in the future as a result of the Snowden and Alexis cases will result in an increase in derogatory information and a further increase in security clearance denials.

Read the full 2014 Report on Security Clearance Determinations.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 04, 2015 8:13 am

3 thoughts on “Big Declines in Security Clearance Determinations”

  1. I suggest another reason for the reduction in Clearance Holders: a reduction in jobs that require a clearance. As an Engineer who has worked in the industry for decades, I have seen the number of job postings drop significantly in the last few years.

    1. I agree and on top of that since DOD is instituting the acceptance of only the lowest bidder on Federal contracts with absolutely no regard as to if the proposed contractor has the ability to fulfill the contract, a great deal of employees are being laid off and not being replaced. This trend is not likely to be reversed anytime soon until DOD comes to their senses and terminates or rather RIFS a total of 33% of the officers in the ranks of 05 and above. The DOD budget is still way out of control and the bloat of commissioned officer in these high ranks is doing

  2. Exactly, with sequestration still lingering and DoD budgets shrinking, contractors are forced to do more with less (fewer contractors, lower wages), which equates to less clearances needed. With our Nations enemies becoming bolder, you have to wonder if they are seeing this trend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation