What if I Can't Get an Interim Security Clearance?

There are quite a few jobs requiring a security clearance that make an interim clearance a strict condition of employment. If you already have a security clearance, this is a non-issue, but not everyone can obtain an interim clearance easily. For those who find obtaining an interim clearance challenging because of something in their past, the ability to obtain interim clearance can mean the difference between having a job and being out of work.

If you need to obtain interim clearance, you know you have a lot at stake and the thought of being denied can be very stressful. If you’re pursuing interim clearance, here is what you need to know about the process.

Why Interim Clearance?

Why does the government have interim clearances anyway? What is its purpose? In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need interim clearances because the background investigations would be quick and investigators would come back with a final decision within a few short weeks, but that’s hardly the case – it takes much longer to make a security clearance decision. Since our government doesn’t always have time to wait for a final eligibility decision to fill a position, it often needs to reach a compromise. And what is that compromise we speak of? It’s the interim clearance.

Essentially, it all comes down to risk management. The interim clearance is based on a review of the SF-86 and a few basic checks of major databases – this is not a bonified investigation. Does this mean the applicant is guaranteed final approval? No. If the subsequent background investigation unearths some “black marks,” otherwise disqualifying information that didn’t come up earlier, the interim clearance can be revoked.

“Can I challenge a denial or revocation of an interim clearance?” is a question that comes up a lot. Regardless if an interim clearance is denied outright or revoked later, the individual has no right to challenge the decision. However, once a final, unfavorable eligibility decision has been made, the administration due process rights take effect under Executive Orders 12968 and 10865. While this seems unfair, there is a silver lining: if the interim clearance is denied, it’s not counted as a “denial” for the purpose of filing a future security clearance application.

Next: Security Clearance: The ‘Whole Person’ Concept

Additionally, if you’re denied an interim clearance, it doesn’t mean you’ll be denied for final clearance. Many denied interim clearances occur because the investigator lacked sufficient information to make a snap risk management decision. Often, such concerns are more thoroughly addressed and mitigated during the more detailed background investigation. For more information about denied interim clearances, we urge you to contact Claery & Hammond, LLP.