5 Tips For Employees Facing Security Clearance Issues

The following are 5 easy tips for federal employees and government contractors to consider when they face potential problem areas in the processing of their security clearances. Usually, an applicant first discovers a potential problem when they begin to review the principal form used to apply for such clearances, the SF-86 / e-QIP. Quite often the issue arises from a review of a question that cannot be answered with a clear “no.” (example: Have you been arrested in the past 7 years?).

Some quick tips for a clearance applicant include the following:

1. Be Honest: This is one of the most basic and important tips. It is often not the underlying issue that results in a security clearance denial (example: an arrest for driving under the influence), but rather when the clearance applicant is not truthful about the incident. It is a lot easier for an attorney to mitigate security clearance concerns involving an arrest, than it is to defend against an allegation that an individual was not honest in their initial application.

2. Advance Preparation for Security Clearance Problem Areas: If an individual is aware that there could potentially be a security clearance problem areas in their application they should plan in advance how they will respond to questions about the issue. This can even include obtaining documentation regarding a potential problem area in advance to mitigate the security concern early. The individual should be prepared, in advance, to address any problem areas instead of attempting to do so at the last minute.

3. Take Time to Properly Complete the Application: We often see a number of problems and even denials of security clearance applications where a federal employee or government contractor did not take enough time to read and answer all of the questions carefully. This is critical. In some cases, if an applicant does not take the time to read the question and answers “no” when they should answer “yes” the investigator could assume that individual was attempting to hide information from them. It pays to carefully complete the security clearance application.

4. Prepare for the Clearance Interview: If an individual knows that there is a good chance that problem areas exist in a security clearance application, the person should expect to be asked about the areas in advance by the investigator that is assigned. These interviews can vary from an hour to several hours depending on whether security concerns exist. Preparation (and practice) for the interview can help iron out any problem areas in advance and will provide confidence to the applicant when the time comes to meet with the investigator and to explain their responses to the problem areas.

5. Get Legal Advice Early: An individual has the best chance of resolving clearance problem areas when they get legal advice early when a suspected problem area exists, instead of waiting. Doing so also tends to cost less than trying to rectify a problem later in the process after a denial has been issued. It is our experience that some security clearance problems that we see which could have been resolved early (but were not) require significant efforts to reverse later in the process.

There are many considerations for a federal employee or government contractor when potential problems arise in the security clearance process, but I hope that these 5 tips are helpful. Each case varies so it is important to discuss any individual cases with a knowledgeable lawyer familiar with security clearance law. Please be advised that the information in this article is strictly for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

How Defense Contractors Get a Facility Security Clearance

Having a Facility Clearance (FCL) makes a business attractive, but that desire does not provide the needed justification for obtaining a security clearance. The FCL is strictly contract based and demonstrates an enterprise’s trustworthiness. A company is eligible for a facility security clearance after the award of a classified contract. The FCL is a result of a lengthy investigation and the subsequent government’s determination that a company is eligible to have access to classified information.

A company can bid on a classified contract without possessing a facility clearance, but is sponsored for a clearance after the contract is awarded. The interested company cannot simply request its own FCL, but must be sponsored by the Government Contracting Activity (GCA) or a prime contractor. Once the need to conduct classified work is determined, the next requirements are administrative. The company has to submit proof that they are structured and a legal entity under the laws of the United States, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico and have a physical location in the United States or her territories. The enterprise has to be in good business standing and neither the company nor key managers can be barred from participating in U.S. Government contracts.

The company being sponsored for a clearance should immediately obtain the federal regulations necessary to determine the government’s guidance for working with classified material. For Department of Defense contractors, the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) is the most frequently used. The sooner the contractor obtains their copy of the regulations, the quicker they will begin to understand their expected role in protecting the nation’s secrets.

A critical piece of the sponsorship program revolves around the Cognizant Security Agency (CSA) having a good understanding of the subject company and their mission. To do this, the CSA will need to review organizational structure and governance documentation to determine who can commit the company and make decisions. This information includes: articles of incorporation, stock records, corporate by-laws and minutes.

The senior company officer, FSO and other key management employees will be processed for a security clearance. The CSA may also want to see proof of citizenship and other information to determine eligibility for a clearance. The other officers and board members may be excluded from the security clearance process if they will not have influence over cleared contractor decisions.

Aside from corporate entity documentation, the CSA will collect and complete additional forms sometime during the FCL process. These forms include, but are not limited to the Department of Defense Security Agreement (DD Form 441), and the Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interests (SF328). The CSA will advise the contractor on how to fill out the forms and answer any questions the contractor may have.

The DD Form 441 lists the responsibilities of both the cleared contractor and the government. The contractor agrees to implement and enforce the security controls necessary to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified material in accordance with the NISPOM. The contractor also agrees to verify that the subcontractor, customer, individual and any other person has the proper need to know and possesses the security clearance necessary to access classified information. The Government will also instruct the contractor on the proper handling, storage and disposition of classified material usually in the form of the DD Form 254. The Government also agrees to provide security clearances to eligible contractor employees.

The SF 328 is used by the contractor and the CSA to determine whether or not and to what extent the cleared contractor falls under Foreign Ownership Control and Influence (FOCI). The primary concern is always protecting classified information from unauthorized disclosure. In today’s changing world it is not unusual for a cleared company to be involved with international business. If classified contracts are under the control of a foreign entity, the classified information could be in jeopardy of unauthorized disclosure. Additionally, items that fall under the International Traffic and Arms Regulation ( ITAR ) could be in jeopardy of unauthorized export. If a contractor falls under FOCI, the CSA will evaluate their ability to mitigate the extent of foreign influence concerning classified information and approve, deny or revoke the FCL. Companies that are determined to fall under FOCI can still compete for classified work; however, there are measures to be taken to ensure that only U.S. persons control the scope of classified work.

The FCL is a determination that a legal entity is trustworthy and able to safeguard classified information. This FCL relates to an organization and not a physical location or building. For example, a cleared contractor organization can move locations and keep the FCL. The FCL remains in place until either party terminates it. If for some reason the contractor no longer needs access or is no longer eligible for access to classified material or either party terminates the FCL, the contractor must return or destroy any classified material to the GCA.

Why House Clearance And Disposal Services Beat Doing It Yourself

House clearances and disposal solutions are popular in the West Lothian and Bathgate areas among both home owners and businesses. Whenever the time comes to find a bigger or more affordable location, there are a variety of small but time consuming tasks that must be completed, and chances are they are also the last things on earth that a busy business person or homeowner wants to do. Among these solutions are disposing of trash and making sure that there are no important elements left behind. In these days of identity theft and environmental awareness, a clearance and disposal service can add convenience and peace of mind to those with too much on their plate.

One way that a clearance company can help you with your home or office needs is by safely disposing of all the materials that you leave behind without realizing. Important company documents or personal finance information could easily fall into the wrong hands without them because you have more important things to worry about such as setting up a new home or keeping your business functional through the stress of moving. Disposal companies are trained to look for and specialize in the things you forget about, and as such, they free you up to work on things of more pressing importance.

Another area where clearance and disposal companies help is that they can keep you mindful of any legal changes that you need to know in how to make disposals. With so much emphasis currently being placed on the environment, moving from one location to another or beginning construction jobs require more attentiveness to their effects on the world around you. By adherring to standards set forth by governmental agencies, you not only steer clear of potential fines and legal action, but you also help preserve this land for another generation.

A third area where clearance and disposal units are absolutely essential is with recycling. From time to time, government agencies may issue incentives for recycling, and while you can benefit from those as they become available, the knowledge that you are reusing materials that can help other people and the world at large is simply good karma.

The fourth area where a clearance and disposal unit becomes necessary is with the matter of assessing risk. Clearance is simply too big of a job for you to notice every little detail on your own. Companies that specialize can help you discover, before action is ever taken, the possible physical and financial risks that your family or business could encounter in a move. With all the support that these companies offer, it is hard to justify going it alone. Take a load off your mind and share the responsibility.