My previous blogs provide detailed info about each of the federal law enforcement agencies and careers with the agency. This blog will explain the security clearance process and the process of security clearance with the federal government. Many candidates will have to go through security clearance for positions with the federal government, because many positions require access to classified documents.
Security clearance is required for access to classified information and is granted after a comprehensive background investigation is done. Each candidate who goes through security clearance is sponsored by their individual agency and cannot obtain a clearance for themselves. There are three levels of Security Clearance that are granted to candidates based on their job duties:
- Confidential: if information is disclosed at this level, then it could cause some damage to the natural security. Confidential clearance is reinvestigated every 15 years.
- Secret: if information is disclosed at this level, then it could cause grave damage to the national security. Secret clearance is reinvestigated every 10 years.
- Top Secret: if information is disclosed at this level, then it could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security. Top Secret clearance is reinvestigated every 5 years.
Extensive information is asked on the security clearance forms which include
information such as employment history, residence place, family information, foreign connections, travel history, arrests, illegal drug involvement, financial status, military service, mental health counseling, alcohol counseling, prior clearances, and arrest records. The form also asks for a certain number of years an applicant has been involved in certain activities for example a Secret clearance requires past seven year information whereas Top Secret requires past ten year.
Some agencies also offer Interim clearances for student internships. Interim clearances are offered based on completion of minimum security requirements and is only granted on temporary basis. Interim clearance allows applicant to work and have access to classified information until their full clearance is completed. However, full clearance is granted after completion of full investigative requirements.
Finally, all security clearances are granted based on 13 Adjudicative Guidelines. The adjudicative guidelines are used to make decision whether applicant will be given access to security clearance or not. The 13 Adjudicative guidelines are:
(1) Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States
(2) Guideline B: Foreign Influence
(3) Guideline C: Foreign Preference
(4) Guideline D: Sexual Behavior
(5) Guideline E: Personal Conduct
(6) Guideline F: Financial Considerations
(7) Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption
(8) Guideline H: Drug Involvement
(9) Guideline I: Psychological Conditions
(10) Guideline J: Criminal Conduct
(11) Guideline K: Handling Protected Information
(12) Guideline L: Outside Activities
(13) Guideline M: Use of Information Technology Systems
Decisions are made by looking at the person as a “whole” and weighing different factors such as seriousness of conduct, frequency of illegal behaviors, etc. Throughout the entire process, it is important to be honest and provide all information to expedite the process.
This video explains some most common FAQs applicants have about the Security Clearance process: