Many government employees require access to sensitive and protected information to perform the duties of their job. This could include certain military personnel, federal agents, federal contractors, or anyone else who handles classified information that, if improperly disclosed, could threaten the national security of the United States. People who work in such jobs must be granted a level of security clearance consistent with the sensitivity of the information they need to access.
Security clearance is not normally issued as soon as you’re hired for a job that requires it. Instead, your employer will need to sponsor your clearance application and background investigation. Government backlogs and the internal complexity of the application process make obtaining clearance slow and arduous. It takes thorough planning and preparation to mitigate delays and avoid rejection, both of which are common.
The Griffin Law Firm advises government employees in all stages of the security clearance application and appeals processes. Call (888) 707-4282 today to speak with one of our security clearance attorneys in Norfolk about your case.
National and Military Security Clearance
There are various levels of security clearances. The most common are confidential, secret, and top secret. Of these three, confidential is the lowest and most common, and top secret is the highest. They are measured according to the sensitivity of the information they correspond with. Employers and government officials work together to determine appropriate levels of clearance for government personnel.
No security clearance grants total access to all classified national security intel, not even to all information that corresponds to the level of clearance. Instead, a security clearance enables an individual to access only the information required to carry out their assignments.
Applying for Security Clearance
If you are preliminarily selected for a job that requires security clearance, your employer will direct you complete the first steps of the application, which includes verifying your identity and citizenship, fingerprinting, and filing a Personnel Security Questionnaire (SF-86) online through e-Quip. It is essential to fill out the SF-86 questionnaire accurately, honestly, and completely because the smallest error could cause your application to be rejected.
Afterwards, the Defense Security Service (DSS) will oversee an exhaustive background check, looking into your educational, residential, professional, financial, and criminal history (if applicable). Some clearances require several face-to-face interviews with private investigators and, for the highest clearances, polygraph tests. You may be asked to disclose personal information; and neighbors, friends, family, and/or coworkers might also be questioned. Findings are compiled and reviewed by the DSS.
This process is designed to verify your integrity, values, and national allegiance and to ensure that you have not been influenced by foreign interests. Any inconsistencies, omissions, and falsehoods may disqualify you from receiving clearance. If there are concerns about your application or new information is needed, you may receive a Supplemental Information Request (SIR). If your security is denied, you will receive a Letter of Intent that contains a Statement of Reasons for your denial. You may have an opportunity to appeal the decision before the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB).
This entire process can take several months to a couple of years to complete. As such, certain government employees may be issued an Interim Security clearance (or Interim Security eligibility), depending on the urgency of the projects they’re hired to work on and the findings of the initial investigation phases. These clearances are provisional and limited.
Security Clearance Violations, Revocations, and Appeals
Infractions of the policies and procedures that protect classified information could cause your clearance to be revoked.
Examples of security infractions include:
- Improper storage of classified information (i.e., in an unlocked and unauthorized container, cabinet, or device)
- Leaving classified information unattended (i.e., in an unlocked computer or container, or in an unsecured area, such as on your desk or on a table)
- Losing a security badge or writing down login information
- Removing classified material from designated and authorized areas
- Copying or otherwise reproducing classified information
- Improperly disclosing details of classified information (i.e., discussing it in public areas or on insecure phone lines, or sharing information with unauthorized parties)
- Failure to properly destroy classified information, when necessary
- Failure to report a security violation
The severity and frequency of infractions, as well as the clearance holder’s intent, are considered when determining whether to revoke security privileges. As with denials, withdrawals of clearance can be appealed before the Appeals Board, either in writing or in person (depending on your job).
Security Clearance Legal Counsel for Civilians and Service Members
Our security clearance lawyers at The Griffin Law Firm offer exhaustive pre-clearance counseling services, from thorough SF-86 consultations to helping you understand the issues that could cause delay or denial. We also make sure our clients understand what’s involved in the investigation process and help them prepare for investigative interviews. In the event that your application is stalled or denied, or if your clearance is revoked, we provide Supplemental Information Request and Statement of Reason response services and appeal counseling and preparation. Our team has a strong reputation among service members and government personnel in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Yorktown, Virginia, and we accept clients from all over the country.
Call (888) 707-4282 or send us a message via our contact form to find out how can assist you with your security clearance application or appeal.
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