Security Clearance: The Periodic Investigation

For some people, obtaining a security clearance was a bit nerve-wracking to put it nicely. It can be unsettling when investigators are looking far back into one’s past. The background investigation involves looking at an applicant’s juvenile records, employment history, spending habits and overall financial behavior, and any history of arrests among other important events in a person’s past. For example, the time a high school girl lied and accused an applicant of date rape back in the 1990s can be called into question. Or, the time a former real estate agent filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy during the Great Recession – that can be called into question. Or, the time an applicant was arrested for driving under the influence of OxyContin – that too would come under close scrutiny during the background investigation.

Essentially, all of the skeletons come out of the closet during the background investigation for security clearance. So, it’s understandable why many applicants breathe a sigh of relief when they finally pass the exhaustive background check and obtain security clearance. While receiving security clearance is an honorable accomplishment, it comes with strings attached.

What Happens Every Five Years?

Security clearance is not permanent; people are reinvestigated every five years. If you have security clearance, how do you know when you’re up for a reinvestigation? When it’s time, you will receive notice from the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability about your reinvestigation. Once you receive notice about the impending investigation, you will be required to submit an updated security package. From there, you would be subject to another background investigation. What will the second or subsequent background investigation be concerned with?

The background investigation would look at all the key aspects of your life, such as your recent employment history (Are you subordinate? Do you follow orders?), any criminal history, your recent financial history, and substance abuse; however, this investigation would pick up where the last one left off.

Looking for a security clearance attorney? Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to work with a legal team with more than 30 years of collective experience.