Security Clearance Wait Times Improve, but Sequester Could Halt Progress

The majority of applicants are cleared within four months.

Wait times for final security clearances improved for the third straight year, with the majority of applicants receiving their clearance within four months, according to a new survey.

The survey of more than 8,000 security-cleared personnel by found that 57 percent received their final security clearance within four months. That compares to 2010, when the majority (56 percent) of final clearances took five months.

In addition, of the 57 percent who were cleared within four months last year, most received clearances sooner. For example, 13 percent obtained their clearance within one month, 27 percent within two months and 46 percent within three months, the survey found.  

Still, ClearanceJobs cautioned that while wait times have improved, it’s unclear how this trend could be impacted by sequestration. A slowdown in security clearance wait times, for example, could have negative ramifications for government, particularly as it strives to recruit and retain cybersecurity professionals, said Evan Lesser, managing director of

“Our cyber talent is mainly in private industry and bringing that talent into government positions is difficult at best,” Lesser said. “That’s leaving the U.S. government exposed. Any further frustration from a sequestration-induced slowdown in clearance wait times simply makes the challenge even greater.”

Meanwhile, furloughs resulting from the sequester also could have a negative impact on federal employees’ ability to maintain their security clearances, my colleague Kellie Lunney reports at Government Executive. Agencies have said they will have to furlough employees to comply with the mandatory spending cuts under sequestration, which means federal employees could have trouble keeping up with expenses and could miss monthly car or mortgage payments, issues that could have a negative impact on their ability to obtain or maintain their security clearances.