You probably already know how to lose a security clearance – financial issues, foreign girlfriends or lying are all top reasons. But if you have one, or are in the process of getting one, how can you keep it? Here are four tips to help you keep your valuable security clearance.
- Passage of time
- Tackle debt
- The ‘whole-person’ concept
- Keep it current
First, think through passage of time.
A single issue or even a series of issues likely won’t be a problem – if you can show adequate time has passed. Just because you have to list an issue on your SF-86 doesn’t mean it will be a problem. But if it’s an issue from last year, that’s more of an issue than something from two years ago.
Second, tackle debt.
Show good faith efforts to address debt, and keep meticulous records. In some cases, disorganization can cost you your clearance – that’s if you have financial, tax, or other issues which could be mitigated by the proper records. Stay on top of your bills, and keep records of any lapses (and the reasons why) if you’d like to keep your clearance.
Third, show your ‘whole person.’
Get your mind out of the gutter, and keep your clothes on. Your adjudicator cares about who you are – holistically. It’s actually a codified aspect of the clearance process. It means if there is an anomaly in your behavior, it won’t cost you a clearance. If you have a lapse in judgment, be prepared to defend yourself with character references and supporting evidence.
Fourth, don’t let it expire.
It goes without saying – a security clearance is use it or lose it. If you don’t need your eligibility to access classified information, you won’t be able to hold onto your clearance. The good news is your investigation remains current for two years. If you leave a cleared job or contract, you have two years to begin a new cleared job or contract. It’s important to start your new job within that timeframe so you don’t have to undergo a completely new investigation. Work with your human resources office and security officer to keep your eligibility current if you need it.
Your security clearance is a valuable asset that sets your skills apart. Take care to keep your clearance. It’s to your advantage.