Seems my initial correspondent wasn’t alone. A reader writes in:
Recent experience indicates there’s something to your anecdotal evidence regarding the notorious snail’s-pace of DISCO clearance investigations. A guy in my office just had to sit in the uncleared “romper room” for over six months waiting for his clearance to be reinstated after returning to the defense world after spending a couple of years at a non-DOD agency. The reason for his long wait? He’d contentiously indicated on his SF-86 form that he held foreign investments, namely stocks in mutual funds that traded in (among many other places) China.
A normal human would conclude that owning foreign stock via mutual funds in a retirement account is not a big deal; almost everybody in the country with a 401K owns such funds. But apparently not in the eyes of his DOD investigator, who moved up his re-authorization up to a higher tier of authorization… because she had never heard of a mutual fund, and thought the guy (a military vet) was a security risk who did business with the Chi-Coms. Not making that up.
My own last clearance update investigation lasted over two years, thanks to DISCO repeatedly losing my paperwork. I try not to think about all the the details in an SF-86 that could be used for identity theft.
It may be time for DISCO, the Pentagon, and OPM to do some explaining to Congress. In cases like this, does DISCO conduct any “lessons learned” so that it doesn’t make the same mistakes repeatedly, keeping people trained at great expense to the U.S. government from their jobs?