It’s not always what you do before you are granted your clearance, as much as what you do or don’t do after you get it that is important.  Cleared personnel are required to undergo an initial security briefing prior to being granted access to classified information and are required to received annual refresher training as long as they hold access.  A portion of this training covers reporting information or situations which may adversely affect an individual’s favorable clearance eligibility or access.  Cleared personnel are required to report information to their security officer whether the information pertains to another employee or themselves.

The Cocaine User and the Security Clearance – Case No. 12-04813

Applicant is a 33-year-old employee of a U.S. defense contractor, working as a designer with his current employer.  The applicant submitted an Electronic Questionnaire for Investigation Processing (eQIP) in July 2010.  He answered “no” to the question “Have you EVER been charged with any felony offense?”  The applicant listed an arrest in March 2008 for trespassing and obstructing justice and an arrest in November 2008 for grand larceny and destruction of property.  Following completion of his background investigation, he was granted a Secret clearance eligibility in November 2010.  In December 2010, he was arrested for unlawful possession of a controlled substance – cocaine, a class 5 felony.  In June 2011, he was granted deferred judgment and placed in a first time offender program.  In June 2012, the charge was dismissed.  The applicant failed to report this arrest to his security officer.  As a result, the employer issued the applicant a Final Written Warning, noting that he had completed training where the topics of adverse information and employee responsibility were covered.

In November 2013, the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) issued the applicant a set of interrogatories (a request for information).  He responded in December 2013.  In March 2014, the Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudication Facility (DoDCAF) issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) to revoke his clearance eligibility alleging security concerns under Guideline J (Criminal Conduct) and Guideline E (Personal Conduct).  In addition to the applicant’s three criminal arrests, the SOR cited his deliberately providing false information on his eQIP by answering “no” to the felony arrest question and his deliberate failure to report his most recent arrest to his security officer.  The applicant responded, electing to have his case decided on the written record.  A copy of the Government’s file of relevant material (FORM) was provided to the applicant and he submitted his response in March 2015.

The applicant denied deliberately providing false information on his eQIP, contending that he misinterpreted the question as “have you ever been convicted.”  He reported that he has ceased contact with individuals which led to his involvement with law enforcement officials.  He stated that two of the arrests were simply a matter of him being “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.  He further stated that he did not report the 2010 arrest to security officials because he knew the charge would eventually be dismissed.

After review of all information and consideration using the “whole person concept”, including the passage of time since the last criminal arrest, the AJ decided that the applicant had mitigated all of the security concerns cited in the SOR.  Although the AJ reported that the failure to notify security officials of the 2010 arrest was deliberate, the applicant was granted his security clearance eligibility.  The Government appealed this decision.  The DOHA Appeal Board reviewed the case and decided that the applicant had not mitigated the concerns.  The Board reported that the applicant’s behavior impugned his judgment and his willingness to abide by rules and regulations and undermines his credibility.  The favorable decision was reversed and the applicant is not eligible for a security clearance.


I agree with the Appeal Board in this case.  Once an SOR is issued, it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide testimony and documentation to support mitigation of the security concerns.  The DoD had strong evidence of criminal and personal conduct by the applicant that brought into question his judgment, reliability and trustworthiness to have access to national defense information.  Note that the applicant was not represented by an attorney in this process.  An attorney could argue the difficult and sometimes confusing process known as the eQIP completion and submission and whether or not the employer’s security office was thorough in its training.  However, as a Facility Security Officer, I know what the requirements are for cleared contractor personnel for initial and annual training and the applicant’s reason for not self-reporting is without merit.  Additionally, his criminal conduct almost immediately after being granted eligibility reflects a lack of sound judgment and maturity.

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William Loveridge is a Facility Security Officer, a security consultant, a retired DoD personnel security adjudicator and a retired US Army Reserve Warrant Officer.