We’ve all been there. The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rejects your applicant’s application package. What went wrong? Your employee dutifully filled out all the necessary paperwork you thought the application package was complete and tight. But here you are, reading, “We are sorry to advise that your application package for John Doe has been rejected, please address the following issue and resubmit.”

In this day and age of a highly mobile society, where residence and job change occur more frequently than in the past, the need to have your data complete helps the applicant tremendously – with respect to DISCO – their number one identified issue is incomplete or missing employment information.

DISCO admonishes:


List all employment; include the company which is
submitting the clearance request as current employer.
Applicant should list all full-time work, paid or unpaid,
consulting/contracting work, all military service duty
locations, temporary military duty locations (TDY) over 90
days, self-employment, other paid work, and all periods of

Whereas, OPM notes their number one identified issue is the fingerprint cards aren’t being submitted in a timely manner.

OPM admonishes:

“Fingerprint cards must be provided to OPM within 14 days of approval by DISCO”

The good news is, both DISCO and OPM have shared with us their top ten reasons for application rejections (current as of July 2012)

DISCO – these ten items account for 96% of all DISCO rejections

  1. Missing employment information
  2. Missing social security number of spouse or adult co-habitant
  3. Missing relatives information
  4. Missing Selective Service registration information
  5. Incomplete information concerning debts or bankruptcy
  6. Missing education reference information
  7. Missing employment reference information
  8. Incomplete explanation of employment record
  9. Missing personal reference information
  10. Missing explanation of drug usage

OPM – these ten items account for 98% of all OPM rejections

  1. Fingerprint cards not submitted within the required timeframe
  2. Certification/Release forms information illegible or missing
  3. Certification/Release forms not meeting date requirements
  4. Discrepancy of place and date of birth information
  5. Missing references (character, residential, employment or educational)
  6. Discrepancy of e-QIP Request ID Number
  7. Missing employment information
  8. Certification/Release forms not submitted
  9. Missing education information
  10. Missing residence information

Using the above two lists as a final checklist will significantly reduce the likelihood the applicant’s application will be rejected based on a missing or incomplete item. Remember, it is both the applicant’s and security officer’ responsibility to ensure the packages submitted to DISCO/OPM are complete.

As the adage goes, the devil is in the details.

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Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008). He is the founder of securelytravel.com