I wanted to get a sense of what’s coming up so I emailed the human resources folks at State responsible for the Political Cone candidate register to find out where I’d fall on the register if my security clearance finished today (as opposed to three or four weeks from now). I also wanted to know when the upcoming A-100 classes are scheduled to begin. Each entry level foreign service officer starts with a 5- or 7-week course in Arlington, Virginia (sort of diplomatic boot camp). These intro courses begin periodically throughout the year but dates for 2010 have not been published.
I cannot imagine how many emails and calls these folks receive from high-strung, stressed out candidates. I was thus very surprised to receive a quick response to my email query. It seems I would be 37th on the register of 83 people currently on the political register. It’s not clear if that is high enough for an immediate offer or if I’ll be waiting on the register for awhile before receiving an A-100 offer after my security clearance comes in.
As for upcoming classes, there are two remaining in 2009, beginning on September 14th and October 26th. The schedule for 2010 includes five currently dates: January 19th, March 15th, May 10th, June 21st, and September 13th. Now for another month of waiting…
I just added a page on the site with the key dates in the application timeline (at least my experience with the application process). I’ll keep it updated as further events arise. There’s a link to the right under Navigation or you can click here.
I called the Customer Service Center at diplomatic security yesterday to get an update on my security clearance investigation. Expecting to hear another report that the investigation is underway, I surprised to learn that the field investigation was complete as of last Friday, July 10th. My file is now officially in what is called the adjudication phase. The guy on the phone explained that adjudication typically takes 3-4 weeks and involves a detailed review of the entire file to determine whether or not the top secret clearance should be granted.
The news was both positive and negative. On the positive side, it’s great to have the field investigation complete. On the negative side, my file was flagged for the adjudication process even though some (presumably extremely straight-forward) files bypass that process and receive immediate approval.
At least I know there are no bureaucratic problems that will increase the investigation time. I’ve read some horror stories of having to wait months when 90% of the field work is done because one office somewhere in the world cannot complete one small part. My investigation seemed to go pretty smoothly. I heard from people locally and on the East Coast that interviews were being conducted, sometimes in person and sometimes by phone. I haven’t heard from anyone abroad so I don’t know if any of my international contacts were interviewed.
There were no follow up questions or requests other than a couple of issues immediately after my 3-hour personal interview. One was related to my name change from over 20 years ago, satifisfied with the provision of two old tax returns showing the changed name but same social security number from one year to the next. The second was related to some consulting work I’d done in the last year.
The guy on the phone did not know why my file was flagged for adjudication. He said typically it is because a family member is foreign born, there are close international contacts in countries of concern, or something else that requires another set of eyes. He suggested that approximately one-half of the files receive adjudication. Looking at the message boards, some think the percentage is closer to 80%. Regardless, it sounds like most who go through adjudication nonetheless receive their clearances in the end.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another full month.