Government background checks for security clearance getting downright speedy

Posted by Kristina Taylor
June 25, 2012

Government background checks for security clearance getting downright speedy

Everyone’s doing background checks on everyone else these days, it seems, and all this background checking seems to be making the government speedier at it. That’s according to testimony last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, which stated the government is completing its initial personnel security investigations in an average of 36 days, a sharp drop from the 145 days average in 2005.

The Office of Personnel Management’s background investigations for top secret clearances average 72 days, compared to 308 days in 2005. Reinvestigations, which are required every five years for employees with top security clearance average 93 days against an incredibly slow 419 days in 2005. All other secret or confidential clearance reinvestigations average 31 days now, compared to 115 days in 2005.

Merton W. Miller, associate director of investigations for the Federal Investigative Service, which provides background checks for 90 percent of the federal government, said the speedier checks were due in part to the updating of the national security questionnaire, the Standard Form 86. That form now asks for more information from applicants, which in turn has streamlined the interview process. And there’s an increased emphasis on filling out forms electronically rather than on paper, which has decreased the number of incomplete or illegible forms and led to fewer backlogs, he said.

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