The National Security Clearance process has been changing over the past year or so and below you’ll find a summary of key concepts and processes.

National Security Eligibility vs National Security Sensitive Positions:

  • Possessing National Security Eligibility means you’ve been determined to be able and willing to safeguard classified national security information (either at the Confidential / Secret or Top Secret level)
  • Being in a National Security Sensitive position means that while you do not require access to classified information, you do perform sensitive duties or require access to restricted areas, sensitive DoD equipment, or information technology (IT) systems at the unclassified level.  This requirement is automatic for nearly every DoD contractor in order to have logical and physical access to DoD facilities and networks, in the form of a Common Access Card (CAC)

Both of these determinations begin with an investigation, categorized into different levels: T3 (Secret)and T5 (Top Secret) for access to classified information, and T1, T2 and T4 for access to unclassified information at varying levels of sensitivity, and so called Positions of Trust, which may involve handling PII, HIPAA, or DoD network information, as well as childcare on military installations.

Investigations vary in length and granularity but nearly all involve providing fingerprints and a certain amount of personal information via an SF85 or SF86 questionnaire form, usually filled out online through the e-QIP web portal.

Investigations (which may include interviews with the person being investigated, as well as co-workers, neighbors etc.) conclude with Adjudication, which uses 13 Adjudicative Guidelines to determine whether the individual’s background is consistent with access to classified information or sensitive duties.  Continued access is always dependent on favorable findings across these 13 Adjudicative Guidelines, which consist of:

  • Allegiance to the United States
  • Foreign Influence
  • Foreign Preference
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Personal Conduct
  • *Financial Considerations
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drug Involvement and Substance Misuse
  • Psychological Conditions
  • *Criminal Conduct
  • Handling Protected Information
  • Outside Activities Use of Information Technology

*Highlighted items are the areas that most frequently “pop-up” and cause an individual’s access to classified or sensitive information to be suspended pending further review. During the COVID-19 crisis, when family incomes may be impacted due to job loss, layoffs, having to take care of grown children or elderly family members, it’s particularly important to practice sound personal financial management. Stay on top of bills, cut expenses where possible, and self-report to your FSO if our financial circumstances are changing or you find yourself struggling. Self-reporting is a requirement of possessing a security clearance and if issues come to the attention of Adjudicators without having been self-reported to a company security office, the impact is always much worse.

Most important to know is that cleared individuals are now subject to a process called Continuous Evaluation, which involves the uninterrupted assessment of a person (across the 13 Adjudicative Guidelines) to determine their retention of security clearance eligibility or continued assignment to a national sensitive position.  Rather than just periodic reinvestigations, every 5 or 10 years, Continuous Evaluation includes regular, recurring records monitoring (things like credit reports, financial delinquencies, criminal records etc.) during the time gap between background investigations.  This means that unfavorable information can’t just be “swept under the rug” until the next investigation – it must be dealt with proactively, in real time, starting with self-reporting to your Facility Security Officer (FSO).

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