On September 20, 2011 the FAS (Federation of American Scientists) Secrecy News blog reported, “The number of persons who held security clearances for access to classified information last year exceeded 4.2 million — far more than previously estimated — according to a new intelligence community report to Congress.”
Although this report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) failed to provide data on several metrics required by Section 367 of the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, it gave a clearer picture of the cleared community and a different way of looking at the length of time it takes to get a security clearance.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 642,831 security clearances were granted. OPM, which reportedly conducts 90% of all security clearance investigations, “provided data for FY 2010 that it had available on 34,029 security clearance determinations across the Federal Government that took longer than one year . . . .” This suggests that about 5.9% of all cases took over 1 year.
Also of interest was the 7% clearance denial rate reported by the National Security Agency. For comparison the average denial rate at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, Department of Navy, and Department of Air Force was about 1% and the denial rate at Department of Army was about 6%.