Active duty military members, civilian Defense Department employees, and civilian employees of Defense Department contractors are very likely to need a security clearance for access to sensitive information to perform their work. Typically, the start of the process to obtain that clearance is the completion of a questionnaire, or the Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (or e-QIP). This lengthy form contains numerous questions delving into the Applicant’s life and background which may generate potential issues during a background investigation that may result in a decision to deny the Applicant’s request for a clearance. A clearance may only be granted when “clearly consistent with the interests of national security” and any doubts are resolved in favor of national security.
When preparing to complete the form, the Applicant must acknowledge that failure to provide truthful information may be prosecuted as a violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001; and that a violation could result in imprisonment and/or a fine. As a practical matter, if the Applicant submits untruthful answers, their likelihood of being granted a clearance decreases significantly.
Prior to completing and then submitting the form, the Applicant should review the National Adjudicative Guidelines (Guidelines). Even if the Applicant recognizes some potential issues with the Guidelines and their background, the Applicant should provide truthful information as a favorable outcome is still very possible in many cases. The Guidelines address conditions that may mitigate concerns and taking early efforts to address these potential concerns may lead to a favorable result. Seeking the advice of counsel early in the process may make all the difference.
The most frequent issue that results in hurdles in the clearance granting process is financial considerations:
Most Applicants have some debt, even delinquencies. Failing to live within one’s means, satisfy one’s debts, and meeting one’s financial obligations may indicate poor self control, a lack of judgment, or an unwillingness to abide by rules and regulations. Financial problems may also indicate security concerns such as excessive gambling, mental health conditions, and substance abuse (including alcohol), thus making the Applicant susceptible to coercion or blackmail.
But there are “mitigating” reasons for debt as well. These include: the behavior happened so long ago, was so infrequent, or occurred under such circumstances that it is unlikely to recur and does not cast doubt on the Applicant’s current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment; the conditions that resulted in the financial problem were largely beyond the Applicant’s control (e.g., loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, etc.); the Applicant has received or is receiving financial counseling for the problem from a legitimate and credible source and there are clear indications that the problem is being resolved or is under control; the Applicant initiated and is adhering to a good-faith effort to repay overdue creditors or otherwise resolve debts; the individual has a reasonable basis to dispute the legitimacy of the past-due debt which is the cause of the problem and provides documented proof to substantiate the basis of the dispute or provides evidence of actions to resolve the issue; to mention a few.
For these reasons, an Applicant may desire to seek advice from counsel about whether they may have problems getting a favorable determination on their application. Frequently, getting out ahead of the process may help the Applicant to obtain a clearance.
Mr. Ray Blank handles security clearance issues at King Military Law. Ray is a retired Air Force Judge Advocate who then spent over a decade prosecuting security clearance proceedings for the government. He’s been involved in hundreds of security clearance cases, understands the process “from the inside,” and knows why and how decisions are made. You can’t find a better counselor to help you through the process.
If you or a loved one are preparing to apply for or are facing issues with, a security clearance, reach out to us today for a free consultation. We want to help you and, better yet, we know how.
King Military Law
~~ Where Experience Matters Most ~~
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