Establish a program to allow federal empolyees (and potential employees) to self initiate security clearence investigations at their own expense. Price the cost of the service at a level that will cover variable costs as well as offset some or all of the fixed costs of the background investigation process.
Allow agenices to reimburse employees for these costs in the same way they assist with paying off student loans. Set reimbursement at 1/5 per year of continued federal employment until cost is repaid. Continue current clearence investigation process as needed using funds from self inititiated process to offset costs.
This will expand the potential pool of applicants for cleared positions by reducing the current "catch 22" situation which basicly limits opportunities to apply for cleared positions to those who already have a clearence but makes it very difficult to obtain a clearence unless you have been hired for a cleared position.
OPM could work with colleges and universities to encourage potetnial applicants to self initiate the clearence process about a year prior to graduation so they will be ready to move into cleared positions when they leave school. Existing federal employees in non-cleared positions could self initiate through their HR departments early in their careers as part of preparing themselves to move up the career ladder.
Since the cost of self initiated investigations would only be reimbursed after an employee has been hired into a cleared position, there should be no additional costs to the government. In fact the government should be able to turn a slight profit from individuals who self initiate investigations (priced to cover fixed as well as variable costs) and subsequently choose private sector employment.
In practice, allowing individuals to self initiate security clearence investigations and subsequently reimbusing them for the costs would be very similar to allowing them to self initiate college education and helping to repay the student loans. The government gets a large pool of potential applicants and the individual gain greater opportuinities for employment and/or advancement.