The end-to-end processing time for a security clearance is primarily dependent on the type of clearance required, the federal agency involved, and the absence or presence of significant unfavorable information.
Under the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) federal agencies are required to complete the fastest 90% of all initial clearances (Secret and Top Secret) in an average of 60 days (not counting the 10 or 12 days required for case submission). This average for the fastest 90% can include completion times ranging from 30 to 180 days. The remaining 10% can take from 6 months to over a year.
For a few years, starting in about 2010, federal agencies were generally able to meet the IRTPA timeliness requirements. However, a number of events beginning in fall 2013 caused delays in both investigations and adjudications. The ability of Government agencies to meet the IRTPA requirements is largely dependent on funding. Although recent technological advances have reduced some of the manpower intensive aspects of investigations and streamlined other processes; new investigative requirements have added to the cost and time required for investigations. Many new changes are being implementedand will continue being implemented. It is not possible to know what impact they will have on timeliness for the foreseeable future.