Blame the hackers responsible for stealing millions of current and former government employees’ personal information. The process of obtaining security clearance temporarily went old school, but has since returned to an electronic format.

The U.S. government recently took its electronic submission system offline “until all security flaws could be fixed,” according to an article in The Hill.

“There already is a sizeable wait when it comes to being approved for a security clearance, so this development surely will result in things being bogged down for a while longer,” says Catie Young, a security clearance attorney.

This change happened over the Independence Day holiday. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Office of Personnel Management issued a memo that approved a hard copy security clearance application process. Applicants had to provide a completed hard copy of the background investigation questionnaire to the appropriate agency. That agency held onto the information until the electronic system came back up in late July, and then the agency submitted the information online.

“It’s important to remember that a few weeks of paper processes mean approvals won’t magically be caught up now that the electronic mechanism is reinstated,” Young says. “We likely will feel the effects of this for weeks to come.”

The OPM receives between 20,000 and 30,000 background investigation forms weekly, and it processed about 1.2 million background checks last year, according to The Hill article.

The online submission system – called e-QIP, which stands for Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing – is a website the OPM uses to automate the common security questionnaires used to process federal background checks. The agency took the platform offline once it was determined hackers had gained access to more than 22 million people’s sensitive information, including 21.5 million people’s background investigation forms for security clearance, according to another article in The Hill.

This set of circumstances helps us drive home the importance of hiring an attorney experienced in security clearance law to assist people navigating their way through the security clearance application process.

“We work with these applications every day, so we can make sure that you get your application right the first time,” Young says. “Security clearance often is a hurdle that must be crossed in order for you to gain employment. That means every day your application is delayed is another day where you potentially aren’t able to work.”

Please call our office for a consultation if you’re seeking to gain security clearance.