This news story caught my eye. It struck me as odd. The White House dismissed 6 staffers who were “walked out of the building by security after not passing the SF 86.”
In my experience, the security clearance process does not work in this manner. In practical terms, the way the system works is that someone applies for a job that requires a security clearance. At that point, now that he or she is “sponsored” by the employer for a job that requires a clearance, the facility security officer (FSO) of that employer will put that person in for a security clearance through the Joint Personnel Adjudication Process (JPAS system). It is a slow process but, hopefully within a two month or so time period, an interim clearance will be granted if there are no immediate background issues such as criminal convictions or any derogatory information in the FBI database.
Interim Clearance Granted
Once an interim clearance is granted, the person is then free to work on classified material. The Central Adjudications Facility (CAF) then does a further final investigation by doing a detailed background check of the applicant’s background to include marriage, family history, further criminal check, interviews with people who know the applicant since the age of 16, drug and alcohol screening and pulling of the three main credit reports from Experian, Transunion and Equifax. This review also includes a formal sit down meeting with an investigator from the DSS – Defense Security Service – who will transcribe the interview.
At that point, if the government has concerns about issuing a final clearance, it will pose written questions called interrogatories in relation to the areas of concern. The applicant will then have an opportunity to address the areas of concern. Following that, the applicant may be asked to talk to an investigator again and may even be asked to take a polygraph examination. Following all of that, and depending on if the applicant has held a clearance in the past, he or she may still be able to administratively appeal any denial or revocation of a security clearance. In any event, that has been my experience with the process. The way the article describes the “not passing the SF 86” is, at best, strange to me. Even if there are concerns that the government may have with answers to the questions in the SF 86, there are further steps to be taken along with detailed explanations allowed before a security clearance is denied or revoked. This news article makes it sound like someone takes a SF 86 “test” and, if he or she does not “pass,” then they are simply escorted out of the government offices forever. That is simply not the case.
I have been helping people with all facets of their security clearance for years, to include the initial submission of the SF 86 through representation at security clearance revocation hearings. If I can be of assistance to you with any concerns or issues regarding a security clearance, please email me or call me at 256-713-0221.
Ron Sykstus is a Managing Partner of several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices throughout Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Juris Doctorate from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Ron has served in numerous positions throughout the U.S. Army and now utilizes his expertise in the areas of VA issues, security clearances, military law, and bankruptcy to assist his clients when they need it most. Read his full bio here.