How to Obtain A Security Clearance
For those of us who work in Security at TAD PGS, the multifaceted process of obtaining and servicing our employees’ security clearances have become like second nature to us. However, we realize that it may not be like that for many of you who only have minimal exposure to the process on an occasional basis. With that in mind, we have put together some answers to frequently asked questions. These questions only scratch the surface, but hopefully, they will help clarify some of the basics. If you have any other questions, please feel free to forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 941-746-4833.
1. What does it take to get a security clearance?
Firstly, only US citizens are eligible for a security clearance and must currently be in a position or offered a position that requires a clearance. The employer will require you to complete an eQip (SF86), after which you will need to be fingerprinted. Once those actions are complete, your employer will submit your security package to the government for processing.
There are three levels of DOD clearances that we work with
- TOP SECRET: Information or materials of which unauthorized disclosure could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.
- SECRET: Information or material of which unauthorized disclosure could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.
- CONFIDENTIAL: Information or material of which unauthorized disclosure could be expected to cause damage to the national security.
2. If I held a clearance with another agency could I use that in the DoD world?
Many U.S. federal agencies reciprocate security clearance determinations. Reciprocity may be applied when you have a clearance with a U.S. federal agency, and it is honored and accepted by another agency. Some agencies have separate systems though that aren’t tied to or have limited access to DoD systems. If you believe this situation applies to you, you need to inform your employer of which agency currently holds your clearance. This will allow your employer security department to submit a request to the DoD to have your clearance information imported from the other agency. Once your clearance is confirmed with the other agency, the DoD will make a decision regarding reciprocity based on such things as if the investigation is current and if it meets the standards set for the level of clearance needed for the DoD position which you are seeking to fill.
3. What are the types of investigations for security clearances?
a. NACLC/T3: National Agency Check with Local Agency Checks and Credit Check, is for a
Confidential or Secret (Equal to a Department of Energy “L” Clearance)
b. SSBI/T5: Single Scope Background Investigation, is for a Top Secret (Equal to a
Department of Energy “Q” Clearance)
4. How long will it take to receive my final clearance?
Mostly, it depends on the level of clearance for which you are being processed. Wait times change all the time and are only estimates. Currently, the average wait time for final Secret clearance is 4-6 months and final Top Secret can take up to a year or more. However, some will be granted quicker and some will take longer as it is really a case by case situation.
5. How long is my clearance good for?
Top Secret clearances require re-investigation every 5 years, however, to assist with reducing the enormous backlog of investigations, current guidance from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency “DCSA” has extended that period to 6 years and Secret every 10 years. To remain eligible for a clearance, you must remain working in a position that requires a security clearance. If your position changes and/or you no longer have the need to access classified information, your access privileges will be removed., Your access may be reinstated if the break-in cleared employment is less than 24 months. If you do not work in a position requiring the security clearance for over two (2) years, your clearance can be reinstated by DoD. However, in most cases it will require you to complete another Standard Form 86 – Questionnaire for National Security Positions.
6. What is the difference between a “Current”, and “Inactive” clearance?
- A “Current” clearance is one in which a candidate has been determined eligible for access and may or may not need to be re-instated.” status.
- As stated previously, if you do not work in a position requiring the security clearance for over two (2) years, your clearance can be reinstated by DoD. However, in most cases it will require you to complete another Standard Form 86 – Questionnaire for National Security Positions and go through a new investigation to have access reinstated.
Individuals without current clearance eligibility, may not be considered for jobs that require current clearances.
For more information on the clearance process please visit the DCSA website at: https://www.dcsa.mil/.
For more information on Security Clearances check out our series where our experts cover the in’s and outs of obtaining and working with security clearances.