It’s easy to blame the government for the months it takes to complete a background investigation. But applicants create delays of their own. Here are three common problems with the SF86:
The first common issue is omissions. Remembering those college addresses and your supervisor from that summer internship is tough. Do your best. It’s okay to estimate dates, as long as you indicate the dates as estimated on your security clearance application.
The second issue is outright errors. Don’t leave out an arrest or list an incorrect employer. Often errors come down to not reading the form carefully enough. Consider the specific date range requested. If you were laid off outside the reporting window or had an arrest from 20 year ago, you don’t need to list those. Provide only the information that is required. But if it’s required list it—don’t assume a record was expunged, or a layoff won’t be reported.
Ignorance is often a factor for financial issues. There’s no excuse to not know your financial history. Request a copy of your credit report before you apply for a clearance. Finding out about delinquent debt and addressing it before you apply for a security clearance is always best.
A security clearance investigation never moves swiftly. But you can ensure it moves smoothly if you avoid these mistakes.