Q: Once I obtain a federal security clearance, do I get to ‘keep’ it as I move into other positions?

A: The simple answer: no, employees do not own their security clearance. A security clearance is a privilege granted by the federal government, and may be revoked at any time. Employees may have their clearance administratively downgraded or withdrawn if it is deemed they no longer require access to classified information. Employees also lose access to classified information if they leave their current job, regardless of whether the reason is voluntary or involuntary.

That said, if access to classified information is required again, the clearance may be reissued, provided the background investigation has not expired. If an employee leaves one agency and goes to another, the new agency may use the background investigation already performed to issue a security clearance.

This is why security clearances may be ‘active,‘ ‘current‘ or ‘expired.’



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