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Philadelphia and Washington DC Security Clearance Blog

Security clearance issues: People don't work in the same job now

Unlike decades ago, people across the country, including many here in Pennsylvania, tend not to remain in one job for 20 to 30 years anymore. Instead, they move around for many reasons such as the need for a new challenge, boredom or a change in direction in life. In any case, having a security clearance under these circumstances can get dicey since each new position may require a "new" clearance. Many people are now saying that it would just be easier for a security clearance to be attached to a person instead of a job.

Of course, people would still only receive a security clearance the first time when applying for a position that requires one. Thereafter, it would belong to them unless or until someone determines that it needs to be taken away. This way, if an individual transfers between governmental agencies or private contractors who work with the government, he or she would already have a clearance.

Security clearances: Obligation, affection or influence?

When Pennsylvania residents apply for federal jobs, they may not immediately consider that who they live with matters. In fact, it could matter substantially if the jobs they apply for require security clearances. The government will want to know about the people in the lives of the applicants.

The reason it is important is because an individual could learn a significant amount of classified information that affects the country's national security. If someone close to him or her could somehow extract the information, that would, obviously, cause an issue. For this reason, the federal government wants to know whether your relationship with someone you live with is out of obligation, affection or influence.

The first step in getting a security clearance: Form SF86 eQIP

Many Pennsylvania residents who want to work for the federal government, for federal contractors or the military will not be able to do their jobs without being able to handle classified information. This means that a security clearance is vital. In order to obtain one, it will be necessary to get through the application process, which begins with filling out Form SF86 eQIP.

This new version of the form is the electronic version of the same form. The questions remain the same, along with the way that they should be answered. Honesty is always the best policy. People who fail to answer the questions asked or leave things out because the question did not address that part of an answer will find themselves in hot water.

Protecting a security clearance when separating from the military

Inevitably everyone leaves military service. If a Pennsylvania military member with a security clearance intends to enter the civilian job market after separating from the military, it may be a good idea to make sure the clearance remains intact prior to leaving. That clearance could turn out to be the deciding factor in whether a particular candidate obtains a desired position.

Even with all of the changes happening when it comes to security clearances, not everyone keeps track of when their clearance expires. Anyone reaching a separation date needs to determine whether his or her clearance is still active, or at least current. Despite the approximately 700,000-application backlog, those with current and active statuses retain priority over those with expired or new clearances.

Going into the private sector? Keep that security clearance

Ending a military career or leaving a government job for the private sector? It may be advantageous to make sure to leave with a security clearance. Many civilian companies give preferential treatment to applicants who have active security clearances, which -- right or wrong -- make some Pennsylvania residents more valuable to the private sector than others when applying for jobs.

Why? In the simplest terms, it costs time and money to obtain a security clearance. Remembering when a Pennsylvania resident first obtained a security clearance, he or she may recall that it took some time for it to come through.

Answering some questions about security clearances

Working for the federal government often involves hearing, seeing and knowing about certain matters sensitive to the defense of this country. For those employees, including many from Pennsylvania, security clearances are essential in order to be trusted with the type of information that could jeopardize the safety of this country. Recent news stories about the revocation of clearances by the current administration have raised questions for some people.

In order to obtain a security clearance, applicants must go through a rigorous background check that delves into nearly every aspect of a person's life. Nothing is private during these investigations and everything is under scrutiny. Receiving a clearance is a privilege, and keeping it requires diligence, integrity and the ability to keep classified information confidential. Of course, people make mistakes, and fortunately, those mistakes do not have to mean revocation.

Defense funding bill includes warning re security clearances

Pennsylvania residents who work for the federal government may have heard about the sex scandals occurring in the military in the last few years. Many people believe the buck stops at the Pentagon, and Congress agrees. The new defense funding bill includes a warning that those facing allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct could lose their security clearances regardless of rank or position in the Pentagon.

It does not matter whether the individual involved in the sex scandal is a general, high-ranking civilian or admiral. The Pentagon will conduct an investigation to determine whether the revocation of a security clearance is appropriate and warranted. The measure has already made it through the House and Senate. It now only requires the signature of the President.

Common reasons for the denial of a security clearance

It can be difficult for a Pennsylvania resident to know how a particular piece of information about him or her will be perceived. When it comes to obtaining a security clearance, that individual could be left second-guessing every action or potential indiscretion in his or her past. Numerous issues could cause the denial of a clearance, but some appear more often than others.

For instance, Pennsylvania residents may think that personal conduct would be the number one reason for a security clearance denial, but they would be wrong. In 2017, the most often cited reason for a denial was due to financial considerations, with 1,497 denials for this purpose. Personal conduct ran a distant second with only 408 denials. After that, the disparity between reasons for a denial become much smaller.

Security clearances now affecting immigrant military recruits

According to the National Immigration Forum, as many as 5,000 immigrants join the military every year. Many jobs in the military require servicemembers to have some level of security clearance. Due to the rigorous requirements presented by the military to obtain a security clearance, many immigrants are subject to extra scrutiny in this process.

However, new obstacles to completing background checks are having consequences for immigrant troops. In July, an unspecified number of Army recruits were discharged from the service because the Department of Defense could not complete their background checks.

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