Security-Cleared Pros Don't Like Leaks -- or Wait Times

Survey respondents fear Snowden fallout could drag down the security clearance process.

There is broad consensus among security-cleared professionals that the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor now facing espionage charges, were harmful to national security. Still, many of those security-cleared pros fear the repercussions that may result from the Snowden case, including a possible slowdown in the clearance process, a new survey suggests.

The survey by of nearly 300 workers holding active federal security clearances found that 70 percent do not agree that Snowden’s disclosures of sensitive information were an act of conscience, with most (75 percent) agreeing that the disclosures have been harmful to national security.

But while most security cleared professionals are united in those beliefs, many still fear the potential fallout the Snowden case may have. For example, 64 percent of respondents said they believe the Snowden case will cause a slowdown in the security clearance process. And regardless of whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) also believe the Snowden case will drive the government to insource more highly sensitive work.

The one area where security cleared professionals said they do not expect fallout is in their compensation, the study found.

In addition, while the majority (55 percent) of respondents said they believe the government has become too relaxed when it comes to granting access to sensitive data, nearly half (44 percent) do not believe the current security clearance process is flawed.

According to separate research by, nearly half of security-cleared professionals obtained their final clearances within three months last year. That’s almost two months shorter than the process took on average in 2010.

“It’s important to remember the government focused on speeding up the clearance process in part to stop losing qualified applicants that withdraw due to wait times,” said Evan Lesser, managing director of “At a time when the government is hurting for qualified cybersecurity professionals, the clearance process is critical. Our cyber talent is mainly in private industry and bringing that talent into government positions is difficult at best.”