2 Most Common Mistakes When Applying for a Security Clearance

Posted by Rob Riggins

At the recent National Classification Management Society Annual Chapter Seminar Laura Hickman, DISCO Director, shared the two most common mistakes applicants make when applying for a security clearance. Most of these rejections come from employees of small cleared facilities employers. And despite the fact that just over 18% of interim clearances are denied, ultimately the decline rate is less than two percent.

50% of applications are missing the two errors below, so avoid these mistakes and keep your security clearance application proceeding on track.

1. Incomplete current employment information.

It sounds simple, but don’t forget to include employment information for your current employer.

2. Incomplete financial information.

This is a more complex issue. If you have issues regarding debts or bankruptcies, you must disclose them. How do you find out if you’re unsure? Request copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You need to check all three because reporting isn’t standardized. There are many confusing options available out there for getting your hands on your credit report, but here’s a link for a truly free way to get copies from all three reporting agencies.

If you have had problems it doesn’t mean that you’re sunk. What they are looking for is:

a) Have you made a good faith effort to resolve the issue, and

b) Are you doing what a reasonable person would do?

Obviously that is open to a lot of interpretation and shades of gray. But the absolute worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and pretend your financial problems don’t exist.

An Interim Security Clearance for 12 Years?

Another interesting fact from Laura’s presentation is that there is no policy on the length of time an individual can have an interim clearance. In fact there are folks on the books who have had interim security clearances for over 12 years.

Unbelievable, right? Most of those individuals are overseas and are missing their subject interview. The policy will likely change in the near future to a 12-month maximum for interim security clearances, unless there is a compelling need beyond that timeframe. To clear out some of these legacy interims OPM is sending staff to Kuwait for interviews.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:37 am

4 thoughts on “2 Most Common Mistakes When Applying for a Security Clearance”

  1. I totally support the likely policy change to limit the duration of an Interim clearance to no more than 12 months.

    Did Ms. Hickman say what was involved in a Secret clearance process? I’ve always suspected that the process could do with some efficiency gains…. How long does it take on average to process a request for a security clearance?

  2. Paul, secret clearances are taking about 65 days to process and involve a criminal records check as well as a credit check. Higher level clearances have longer process times and involve a more in-depth review of an individual’s background.

  3. Thanks Mr. Riggings for giving NCMS chesapeake Bay Maryland chapter, credit for having the new director of DSS to speak at our annual chapter seminar.

    Ms. Laura Hickman, provided great insight on the security clearance process and security clearance requirements.

    I only see great things coming out of DISCO

    Diane Griffin
    NCMS Maryland Chapter Chair

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