The Adjudicator’s Role in Security Clearance Decisions

When an uncleared employee is hired to perform on classified contracts, the Facility Security Officer (FSO) requests a security clearance investigation. If a new employee already has an active security clearance, then the action is administrative; just a transfer. In the case of a security clearance request, the applicant completes and submits the SF-86 with […]

The Adjudicator’s Role in Security Clearance Decisions

When an uncleared employee is hired to perform on classified contracts, the Facility Security Officer (FSO) requests a security clearance investigation. If a new employee already has an active security clearance, then the action is administrative; just a transfer.

In the case of a security clearance request, the applicant completes and submits the SF-86 with the security officer’s assistance and the investigation begins. Next, the adjudicators apply the “whole person” concept to determine suitability and make a security clearance decision.

My independent research into whether “unpardonable activity” exists or to answer any questions asking what behavior would always disqualify anyone for a security clearance leads me to answer that it depends on the situation and how the applicant demonstrates a turn from that behavior. However, some applicant behavior that has contributed to security clearance denials include:

· A cavalier attitude about their behavior. In other words the attitude of “take me as I am and I won’t change for you.”

· Lying on the application. These lies include excluding crucial information as well as pretending it never happened.

· The incident in question occurred within the past 12 months. Aside from circumstances leading to an incident in question, recency is a big issue; the more recent the incident, the more difficult it is to mitigate.

The applicant has some control over the timeliness of the application and duration of investigation when they put in the effort to prepare ahead of time with all the references necessary to answer questions accurately and completely. Additionally they can also gather references that may help the adjudicators understand whether or not any derogatory information can be overcome.

Any answers to the questions indicating a risk should be explained in as much detail as possible. Where there is doubt or question, the applicant should err on the side of over explaining instead of under explaining answers. Aside from artifacts explaining situations, the applicant may seek legal advice to assist in completing the document.

If an applicant is indeed concerned that past events may lead to the denial of a security clearance, they should provide as much information as possible explaining or demonstrating that the events are in the past, will not be repeated, completely overcome with rehabilitation, and successfully an non-issue as far as motivation to do it again, ability to be coerced or exploited, or a temptation to do again.

The adjudicators consider the following as they try to make a decision as to whether or not the applicant will be a national security risk. They make security clearance decisions based on interest to national security. Consequently, the applicant is required to demonstrate they are not a threat to national security and should provide artifacts demonstrating that though they may have been a risk to national security at one point, that risk has been mitigated.

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