Some good news from USCIS and the Ombudsman. A joint press
announcement states that the backlog on security clearances has declined
significantly in recent months. According to Ombudsman Michael Dougherty:



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The significant reduction in
long-pending FBI name checks will result in improved service for USCIS
customers Congress provided the necessary funding for USCIS and the FBI to
complete a larger percentage of FBI name checks in a timely manner. We
appreciate the resolve of USCIS and the FBI in realizing this customer service
achievement; both lack of funding and delays had been a significant concern of
my office. We are happy to see significant progress is being made.>>



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It's nice to make a statement like this, but my first
thought was - OK, show us the numbers. And they have, to their credit.



  • There were 269,943 name checks pending on May 6, 2008.
         There are 95,449 pending as of August 12, 2008. >>


  • There were 185,162 name checks pending for more than
         six months on May 6, 2008. There are 61,817 pending more than six months
         as of August 12, 2008. >>


  • USCIS met its April 2, 2008 goal to process all name
         checks pending more than two years by July 2008.




USCIS
also announced that it has reduced processing times in naturalization cases to
ten to twelve months, down from the announced estimate of 18 months after the
surge in applications following 2007's mid-year doubling of fees.





Of
course, it is worth reminding USCIS that the agency has promised for years that
it would get naturalization times down to less than six months. But the trends
are good and I'm encouraged by this news release. And the hundreds of thousands
of new Americans who will get to vote in eight weeks are certainly happy as
well.