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Federal security clearance backlog decreased by nine percent

After reaching a record high in June, the federal security clearance backlog had its first significant decrease in years. The number of backlogged applications dropped from 725,000 to 657,000 in September. This marked a 9 percent decrease.

Some questions removed from screenings

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated they processed more applicants because of changes in the background investigation process. Some changes include the types of questions posed to applicants. Questions about debt and foreign travel were reduced or removed from the security screenings.

New investigation software acquired

The agency also invested in a new background investigations software system. Some are pushing for even more computer-based, data-mining technology. They believe automation would significantly speed up the slow investigation process.

More investigators hired

Another change included hiring more employees. The National Background Investigation Bureau increased their background investigators from 7,000 to over 8,000.

A spokesperson for ODNI stated the agency expects a 20 percent reduction in the security clearance backlog by the end of this year.

The current administration has also called for the clearance and background investigations to be moved from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense. This is part of a larger reorganization of federal agencies being proposed by the administration.

Unclear whether it will be enough to keep up with demand

Finishing more background and security clearance investigations will give more federal employees and contractors the ability to work on classified projects. This has been a long-time complaint among federal employees and contractors. However, whether this reduction in the backlog will be enough to satisfy the demand for employees with high-level security clearances remains to be seen.

For those praising the benefits of computer-based technologies, experts caution this change will probably not be as effective as hiring more investigators. There is no word on the whether the government plans to hire even more investigators.

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