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National Background Investigations Bureau​ Director Charles Phalen testifies before the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Dec. 12. HASC video screenshot.

​The backlog in background investigations for security clearances has fallen almost 17 percent this year, down to 600,000 from a high of 720,000, the head of the National Background Investigations Bureau told lawmakers on Wednesday. 

The change comes as the NPIB is transferring from the Office of Personnel Management to the Defense Department to further streamline the bureaucratic process of clearance investigations. 

The total backlog amount isn’t specifically an individual’s clearance—there is a backlog of 275,000 people, and 110,000 of those are already at work with a temporary clearance, NPIB Director Charles Phalen told the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said there are 79,000 airmen and USAF civilians waiting for a clearance. 

The NBIB is in the process of transferring to the Pentagon from OMB following a White House executive order calling for the move to have the Defense Department take authority over its own investigations.