Security Clearance Denial/Revocation
Millions of people in any given year hold security clearances granted by the US Government. For many of these people, a security clearance is a requirement of their employment, usually because they need to have access to classified information in order to do their jobs. In order to be awarded a clearance by the government, a person has to undergo a background investigation, and one of the critical parts of that investigation is completion of a Standard Form 86 (SF86), QUESTIONNAIRE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY POSITIONS. The electronic version of this form is called an e-QIP, or Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing. The form requests dozens of pages of personal and background information from the applicant, information that must be thorough, complete, truthful and verifiable. Based on the information provided, and other information available to the government, the decision will be made whether it is “clearly in the national interest” for the clearance to be granted. There is no right to a security clearance.
Often, a request for information will seem trivial, and the applicant will, in military parlance, “pencil-whip” the answer – give a partial or unconsidered response, resulting in discrepancies between the information on the form and other information available to the investigator. More common, the information requested may be embarrassing to the applicant (an arrest during college, a bankruptcy, a divorce or unpaid debt), and the temptation is to gloss over or omit this information completely in order to increase the chances of being awarded a clearance. Don’t omit information! More clearances are denied or revoked for failure to provide requested information than for any other reason. Why? Because the intentional omission of unfavorable information is evidence of untrustworthiness, so by omitting this information, the applicant is seen as untruthful and a poor security risk.
After a clearance has been granted, it can be revoked at any time if information comes to light that would make the person a poor security risk (i.e., subject to manipulation or blackmail). Many people with clearances would lose their jobs if they lost their clearances, so when a person is notified via a Statement of Reasons (SOR) that he or she is having a clearance denied or revoked, the response is critical. There are time limits for providing clarifying information and demanding hearings, and having someone to guide you through the process, from completing the initial e-QIP/SF86 to responding to requests for clarification, to representing you at a formal hearing on denial/revocation, has “rescued” many clearances from denial or revocation.
Having represented many clients (and held security clearances ourselves), we’re familiar with the appeal process. Let us give you the best chance get or keep your clearance. If you’re concerned about your clearance, give us a call at (210) 341-1333 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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