It sounds like Diplomatic Security has completed all of the local follow-up interviews for my security clearance. The neighbors have been canvassed. The “persons who know me well” have been debriefed. Employment contacts for the past 10 years have been interrogated. Photography and legal volunteer positions have been verified. There have been no family interviews, but it sounds like they assume that wouldn’t provide much dirt so why bother. The local investigator had a pretty full plate, dedicating most of the week to tracking down people I’ve crossed paths with over the last decade. From the bits of feedback I’ve received, it sounds like things are progressing well.
It is a very strange process to have life be in limbo, with such monumental change on the horizon, without any concrete expectation of timing. Judging from those posting on the Yahoo! A-100 boards and my progression, I have a guestimate for the near-term future, but it could be off by as much as a year so it’s tough to get too far ahead of myself. The security investigation should finish up somewhere between mid-July and mid-August. Apparently, diplomatic security no longer provides feedback via email to let a candidate know when the clearance investigation is complete. There is a number to call for an update so I’ll start doing that in early July, once every 10 days or so.
After the investigation concludes, approximately 80% of candidates go through something called adjudication. Presumably this is a review of one’s security file by a panel to determine if any red flags rise to the level of concern such that State should withhold a top secret clearance. It is unclear how long this process takes, but it appears it can be a few days, a week, or longer. I’m learning quickly that the answer to just about any question related to the Foreign Service is “it depends.” Once I clear adjudication, diplomatic security will issue the top secret clearance (again, no notice unless I call and ask). There is then one final step: the suitability review. This is a relatively short review of the candidate’s entire file and one last chance to be dinged for any reason. Although some see that step as a 48-hour-long formality, there are certainly some who have jumped through every hoop, received a medical and security clearance, only to see the Foreign Service dream crash and burn at final review. Some suitability reviews have extended for weeks, whether because of administrative delay or because of some substantive issue. There is an appeal process, but it’s a long shot.
After clearing adjudication and final review, the candidate’s name is finally entered in the Register. I applied as a political officer and thus would be put on the Register for political officer larvae awaiting “the call” in order of oral assessment score. I scored well with a 5.7 but do not have any extra points (+0.4 for critical need language fluency, +0.17 for world language fluency, additional points for military service, etc.). It sounds like, however, the 5.7 will put me high enough without additional points that I should receive an offer soon, if not immediately, after my name hits the Register. State is really ramping up its hiring given the Obama adminstration’s emphasis on diplomacy and Soft Power. State offered the A-100 entry classes in some years past only a few times a year, but they currently schedule them every 45 days or so. There is one class scheduled to start in early September followed by another in late October. Because there are no classes in November or December due to the holidays (no breaks during the 5-week intensive course), I’m guessing/hoping that I’ll be a member of the October 2009 or January 2010 class.