Government employees or certain professionals in the private sector who work with classified documents are required that they have security clearances. This applies to both federal and non-federal employees who work in secured facilities. Anyone who has a job that requires the handling of classified documents is said to have a “sensitive” position. This is defined as “any position, by virtue of its nature, could bring about a material adverse effect on national security.”
U.S. Security Clearance Program
In the United States, there are about 3 million people who have active security clearances. Another 1.5 million people hold security clearances for work in consulting and private contracting firms. These contractors must participate in the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office’s (DISCO) Industrial Security Program. This program is a joint offering along with the military-based Joint Information Systems Technology (JIST).
It’s estimated that one in every 30 Americans holds a security clearance in one form or another. Even more frightening is that one out of every 1000 is expected to expose the secrets that they are supposed to keep. Secrets are traded for many reasons. Sometimes people need money, others might be blackmailed, still others may find themselves unhappy and disgruntled with their work. In some cases, the motive is pure revenge against a company they no longer trust. And others, are simply sloppy. American companies and industry are a prime target for espionage, white collar crimes and domestic terror activities.
Who is Eligible for a Security Clearance?
The government has decided it’s important for any person who is employed by an organization involved in sending, receiving or developing information related to National security to have a security clearance. There are currently more than 500,0000 background checks going on behind the scenes for people who need security clearances. The process of getting a security clearance may end up taking up to a year for individuals to get through. Because of this, military personnel who have clearances are even more likely to get hired by a company. Otherwise, a company may have to wait over a year after hiring an employee for them to get a security clearance.
By identifying the candidates who already have clearances, those people become far more important in the recruiting process. Please review the following resources if you need additional information on the types of security clearances:
Security Clearance Requirements
Individuals are not permitted to apply for security clearances. It must be initiated from a cleared contractor or government entity. This sponsorship requires an employee to be one of two things: an employee or contractor for the cleared company or an employee that has received a written offer of employment from a cleared contractor. If you get an offer, the offer must indicate that you’ll begin work within 30 days of getting a clearance.
Security Clearance Process
There is a predetermined process that varies by the federal agency for determining whether a candidate can obtain a security clearance. This process is constantly being changed to adjust and adapt to new threats that could compromise the process. Here is a general outline of the process for obtaining a security clearance:
- The application phase is the first step of the process. The candidate must verify U.S. citizenship and complete a Personnel Security Questionnaire (SF-86).
- Thorough background checks are conducted by the Defense Security Service.
- The adjudication phase begins. During this phase any findings that are relevant to the case are discussed and evaluated based on the 13 adjudicative guidelines. These factors are determined by the Department of Defense. The factors could include criminal records, personal conduct, substance abuse and mental disorders.
- The process ends with an approval or denial based on the results of the investigation.
For comprehensive information on this process, we recommend that you review our informational page:
Security Clearance Background Investigation
After completing the ESPQ, the document gets sent to the Defense Security Service (DSS). This service was previously known as the Defense Investigative Service (DIS). The DSS is charged with verifying any information provided and conducting the actual background investigation.
Background investigations will vary in length and depth depending on the position’s requirements. The type of security clearance required will also change the overall length and depth of the investigation. Entry level clearances may be completed quickly, while more in-depth clearances may require more time. Depending on the current climate, type of clearance needed and information uncovered the process can take from several months to more than a year. For additional information on the security clearance background checks process, please review:
The question candidates want to know is if there is any one thing that can disqualify you from a security clearance. The truth is, there are no clear-cut rules about the approval of these clearances. Adjudicators use Adjudicator Guidelines to help them determine whether a candidate is trustworthy, but the adjudicator ultimately must determine if the candidate can be trusted with the Nation’s secrets. There are a few trends within a person’s life that can help the adjudicator determine if a person is worthy. Financial responsibility, honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, character and other factors all go into the decision making process. An additional investigation may be warranted on some borderline cases, and this can extend the length of the process. In some cases, a review of the psychological or psychiatric history may be warranted. There is an appeals process if you believe information obtained about you is inaccurate. For more information read:
Denial or Revocation
If you are denied a clearance or your clearance is revoked, you can appeal the decision. Under these circumstances, you will be able to give a statement that details the reasons your security clearance was revoked or denied. If you believe any information gathered was inaccurate, you have a chance to correct or clarify any information discovered. For more information on appeals, read our informational article, Please review the Security Clearance Defense page for more information.
We Are Prepared to Assist You
Ravenhearth Law is prepared to help any federal contractor employee who is engaging in their first security clearance investigation. Our law firm is able to speed up the process and if there are problems, we can mediate and intervene when necessary to ensure a favorable conclusion to your situation. Ravenhearth Law is able to work with federal contractor employers and employees to help assist with the entire security clearance process. Call or send us a message online today to find out how a our firm can help you reach your professional goals.