Why Can I Be Denied Security Clearance?

In order for someone to gain access to classified information, he or she must be honest, trustworthy and prove that they are not a threat to national security. Security clearance is only granted to men and women who pass a rigorous background investigation. During the background check, the U.S. government is looking to see if the applicant’s personal and professional history indicates that he or she:

  1. Is moral
  2. Is discreet
  3. Is trustworthy
  4. Has a strong character
  5. Is honest and reliable
  6. Exercises sound judgement
  7. Is free from conflicting alliances
  8. Can be trusted to protect classified information

After an individual is given a conditional offer of employment and they have completed the relevant security questionnaire (generally the Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions), and after they’ve completed the other necessary forms, they will undergo the detailed background check, which examines a lengthy period of the applicant’s personal and professional history.

The Adjudicative Process

During this background investigation, Department of State investigators will verify the information supplied by the applicant, such as where he or she grew up, where they went to school, and where they worked. The investigators on the case will also go so far as to speak with the applicant’s current and former supervisors, co-workers, classmates, and references provided by the applicant themselves.

At this point, the applicant is going through the “Adjudicative Process.” This is an “examination of a sufficient period and careful weighing of a number of variables of an individual’s life to make an affirmative determination that the individual is an acceptable security risk,” according to the U.S. Department of State.

During this process, investigators consider a number of factors, including but not limited to the applicant’s:

  1. Foreign influence
  2. Financial history, including bankruptcy
  3. Criminal record history
  4. History of drug or alcohol abuse
  5. Personal conduct
  6. Sexual offenses and behavior
  7. Psychological conditions
  8. Outside activities
  9. Loyalty to the United States
  10. How they handled protected information

If you are applying for security clearance and you have an issue with one or more of the above areas, you could be denied security clearance. For example, a recent DUI conviction or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or a recent diagnosis of PTSD, or a recent charge of solicitation (of a prostitute) can all bar you from receiving security clearance, but there are many other ways to be denied as well.

If your application for security clearance was denied for any reason, contact the security clearance attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP. Let our knowledgeable legal team help you.