NEWS + ADVICE
Will Security Clearance Processing Lengthen
As many of you have probably heard in the news, USIS, the company contracted by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to conduct background investigations, has lost its contract with the agency. For those who are unfamiliar with how background investigations are processed, OPM is tasked with conducting the background investigations for many federal agencies, including the Department of Defense.
OPM itself does not have the manpower to efficiently process all of the background investigations. For this reason it contracts work out to various contractors, the largest of which was USIS. USIS employed several thousand investigators to perform investigations under its contract with OPM and processed approximately 21,000 investigations per month. Now that USIS is no longer conducting background investigations, this begs the question of “Who is going to conduct investigations?” and “How will this affect the timely processing of background investigations.”
Presumptively, much of the work is going to be shifted to other companies that perform background investigations. None of the other companies that perform background investigations have been in business as long as USIS and, at least at this point, they have less manpower to conduct background investigations than USIS did. Given that, presumptively, there are now fewer investigators conducting background investigations for OPM, the natural assumption is that this will likely result in a backlog in processing background investigations.
So, what does that mean for you as a government contractor? If you have never had a security clearance, or if your security clearance has expired, there is a good chance that the already drawn out process of obtaining or renewing your clearance will take longer. As government contracting becomes more competitive, fewer companies are willing to hire individuals whose clearance is not active or current. As such, these companies may pass over those applicants who are due for an updated background investigation, knowing that the process will now likely take longer than they can afford to wait.
For those of you who are already sponsored by a company and are due for your update, the good news is that even if your background investigation is not completed on the anniversary of your last background investigation, there is a good chance that you will be able to continue to have access to classified information. DoD regulations for personnel security provide that a clearance or access entry shall not be suspended or downgraded based solely on the fact that a periodic reinvestigation was not conducted precisely within the five-year time period for top secret/sensitive compartmented information or within the period prevailing for secret clearances under departmental policy.
So, what does this all mean? If you are actively using your security clearance, make sure that you know when your next background investigation is due. OPM does not notify companies when an individual’s periodic reinvestigation is due. The facility security officer of the company must keep track of this and must resubmit you for your period reinvestigation. This should, obviously, be done sooner than later. As a clearance holder, you should be proactive and discuss with your facility security manager what is the earliest possible date that you can submit your reinvestigation request so that you can start the process (if allowable) before the potential backlog that is likely to occur.
Greg T. Rinckey, Esq. is one of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s two founding partners. Tully Rinckey PLLC is one of the largest federal sector employment, military law and security clearance representation firms in the country. Mr. Rinckey is a recognized leader in the military and federal employment law sectors.
Nicole Smith, Esq., a Tully Rinckey PLLC Associate, represents government employees and contractors in a wide range of security clearance matters, to include providing security clearance application assistance and working with clients going through appeals processes for denials, revocations and suspensions. Ms. Smith spent nine years as a national security background investigator.
This information does not constitute legal advice.This entry was posted on Monday, February 09, 2015 8:21 am