Will Security Clearance Processing Lengthen

Posted by Greg Rinckey

Security Clearance Processing TimeAs 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.

Nicole Smith, Tully RinckeyGreg Rinckey, Tully RinckeyGreg 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

18 thoughts on “Will Security Clearance Processing Lengthen”

  1. I have forwarded my resume to USIS on several occasions, with negative results. I believe that I am 100 percent qualified. Please review my profile or forward it to a company who will need an asset like me.

    Russell J. Langill

    1. Russell, Thanks for your comment. You may wish to create a job seeker profile on ClearedJobs.Net and search our jobs database for positions that you think meet your qualifications. Good luck!

  2. Greg, Nicole, I did my “re-up” on my SF-86 in NOV of 2012 (due for March 2013 date), and it was completed in July of this year; that said, it has been in adjudication since July – is this the new normal? I have had a TS/SCI since 1990 when I was still active duty, and have kept it up since as a contractor. Thanks much….

    1. Technically, the incident report in JPAS does not actually remove your TS/SCI eligibility. It does not suspend or revoke your clearance. It only acts as a notification to the Consolidated Adjudications Facility (“CAF”) that there is an issue which could impact your continued clearance eligibility. Only the CAF can make the determination to suspend or revoke your clearance. However, it appears as though your company’s customer is taking precautions and does not want you to work on their contract until the incident report is resolved through the CAF. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do with respect to your clearance. You now have to wait for the CAF to review the incident and make a determination regarding whether to suspend/revoke your clearance, or allow it to remain as is. Without knowing additional particulars regarding your clearance, the incident report, or the customer, I am unable to provide any further recommendations regarding whether there is anything else you can do to continue to work under the customer’s contract at this time. You are welcome to schedule a consultation with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Security Clearance Team to confidentially discuss your situation in more detail. This message does not constitute legal advice.

  3. Hi Nichol,
    Now, I know why government contractors would not hire + 15 experince aerospce engineers whose security clearances (DOD Secret and SSBI/SCI with counter intelligence) expired approximately five years.

    How do I submit my resume to USIS?


  4. I am an SSR and UDM for the military. I’m wondering what is the average length of time for individuals submitting their reinvestigations for TS/SCI clearances? We have someone with theirs expiring the end of this month but deploying in September. Do you think this will this can be completed within the time frame?

  5. Jermaine, There are a lot of variables at play regarding the average length. Many times, delays in processing clearances are caused by incomplete responses or special security issues that surface. If the application is organized with few issues, the process should be completed within 6 months. It never hurts to be proactive by communicating directly with the sponsoring agency. If you would like to speak further with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s National Security Law Practice Group, call (202) 787-1900. The information provided here does not constitute legal advice.

  6. Hey,
    I was wondering if there was a problem with my clearance or was it related to a problem out of OPM. I submitted my SF 86 back in April. It is now September and still no status of completion. Is this due to a huge backlog? It has been 5 months now and my first clearance investigation.

  7. I spent 10 years as an employee of a three letter agency holding a TS/SCI. My last reinvestigation was done in 2007 because of the backlog the security office of this agency is under in terms of completing reinvestigations. I left that agency in April 2015 to pursue contracting opportunities with another agency. I was first told that once my reinvestigation was opened the new agency would recertify my SCI but now I am being told that I have to wait until the reinvestigation is completed. I had no control over the fact that my reinvestigation is out of scope and feel like I am being punished by the government for the government’s own failure, after having served them with distinction for over a decade. So now I am stuck without a job. Is there any recourse?

  8. I am sure your circumstances are very frustrating because it sounds like you have done all of the right things. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the government in regard to reinvestigations and clearance adjudications. It sounds like you are the victim of a perfect storm – many times I see clients that in hindsight regret making a job change during a pending reinvestigation – I routinely advise against it for this very reason. I would try to maintain a respectful, and cooperative, relationship with all of the parties involved. For example, offer to help if there are any factual issues that need to be clarified or paperwork supplied. You may also consider formally requesting all of your clearance documents, so you know if there are problems you can be working on. Hopefully, you will be back on the job once the clearance reinvestigation is finalized. In the meantime, there is no legal recourse. If you would like to speak further with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s National Security Law Practice Group, call (202) 787-1900. The information provided here does not constitute legal advice.

    1. The OPM eQIP was under maintenance for several months. I could not submit SF86 to open reinvestigation until eQIP was brought back up. This overlaps with my badge renewal for FY16 at the customer site. The reinvestigation has since been opened but it is now not considered sufficient. Do agencies consider the delay due to eQIP downtime? Any reference in DoD regulations not to suspend the clearance as long as reinvestigation is opened?

      1. It is my belief that all agencies and contractors have taken the slowdown with the OPM e-Qip process into consideration when evaluating clearance issues. With that being said, the reality is that the person with an active clearance has a huge advantage in job placement scenarios, and if there is any glitch in your profile you may have a problem. If your clearance is not sufficient because of an adjudication issue – for example, if there is a concern about your clearance eligibility aside from just being processed for reinvestigation (financial, criminal, conduct problems) – the adjudication process will have to finalize before you are cleared. I recommend that you review DOD 5200.2-R, paragraph C8.1.3.6 regarding whether your clearance should be suspended during the reinvestigation process. If you would like to speak further with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s National Security Law Practice Group, call (202) 787-1900. The information provided here does not constitute legal advice.

  9. My situation is somewhat similar to the previous poster except for the fact that I stayed with my agency for 33 years. I applied for a contract position a couple of months after my retirement and was accepted. At my retirement, I was aware that I had not been reinvestigated within 5 years because my agency’s security office was extremely backlogged. I attended a retirement course in which we were instructed not to try to schedule a reinvestigation before our retirements. Now I’m being told that I cannot take this job because my agency did not do a reinvestigation in a timely manner and the customer will not accept me for that reason. I am trying to figure out a way that I can update my clearances but since I do not have a sponsor, it is difficult. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. You are in a very complicated position through no fault of your own. However, the reality is that many people are in the same boat due to timing and manpower issues. In my opinion, you must find an employer willing to sponsor you for a position and wait while the reinvestigation process is completed. I recommend gathering all of your important information related to your clearance. Organize your past SF 86 submissions and any matter that caused security concerns in the past. If you don’t have past or current incidents or problems, the reinvestigation process should go smoothly. Either way, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself – convince the employer that you will get a clearance based upon your clean history. If the employer is convinced about a quick turnaround, your credentials will be much for attractive. If you would like to speak further with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s National Security Law Practice Group, call (202) 787-1900. The information provided here does not constitute legal advice.

  10. Hello,

    My name is Donald Bristol. I am a former FBI employee. I retired after 35 years and 8 months of service. The question I have is that I had a TS/SCI w/CI poly when I retired Oct. 2014. I was told in Oct. 2014 my 5 year reinvestigation is due to be expire Aug. 2015, and If I did not revalidate by then, all my clearance status would be lost. I would not be able to utilize any part of my clearance to obtain contracting job, that required a clearance.

    I just need to know since I have not gotten that contracting job that requires a clearance, and now I’m pass the 5 year reinvestigation validation period of Aug 2015. How can I know for sure if I can still get a clearance required contracting job or not. Should I keep on my resume that I still have a TS/SCI w/CI Poly or just remove it now, since I’m not sure if I still have a clearance or not. Should I still apply for clearance required jobs or not?

    1. Since you have passed your period of reinvestigation, there is no absolute way to know for sure you will be able to get a contracting job. You will need to find an employer that will sponsor you for a clearance and then continue to employ you during the reinvestigation process. I think it is appropriate for you to list on your resume that you have previously held, and am eligible to obtain, a security clearance. I also think it is appropriate for you to apply for clearance-related jobs. You just have to be honest with the employer during the hiring process, and convince them you are worth their efforts to sponsor and employ during the reinvestigation process. If you would like to speak further with a member of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s National Security Law Practice Group, call (202) 787-1900. The information provided here does not constitute legal advice.

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