Each year around this time I take a moment to look back at the many questions and comments posted by ClearanceJobs readers in the preceding months. Without fail, patterns emerge. From those patterns, we can derive useful data: what worries the average government employee or contractor? What policies are unclear? What needs to be re-emphasized?

2018 is no different. Here is a recap of some of your most frequent questions and the answers you sought.


Although the ancient Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) has been officially replaced by its successor the Defense Information System for Security (DISS), the rollout of DISS has occurred at glacial speed and JPAS has remained functional for considerably longer than the Department of Defense initially suggested.

The JPAS to DISS migration has been accomplished in phases and JPAS will eventually be taken offline entirely in favor of the new system. Yet the new DISS system retains the notorious JPAS “incident report” function, meaning that the countless questions we receive about JPAS incident reports will continue, only now as DISS incident reports.

If you are NOT currently in a cleared position: The government will not adjudicate your case until and unless you find a cleared contractor or federal agency willing to “sponsor” your clearance. When you do, the sponsoring organization will submit a service request in DISS, notifying the government that the incident report needs to be resolved. If you then receive a Statement of Reasons, interrogatories, or a request to complete a new SF-86, consider seeking professional assistance. Regrettably, there is nothing you can do to fight the incident report under current policy until that point. Read more about the issue here.

If you ARE currently in a cleared position:  Check out this article for the full rundown.


Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 3 established in 2017 a central, unified, and comprehensive policy for self-reporting issues of adjudicative significance to the government between regularly scheduled re-investigations. What is reportable depends in part on the level of clearance the individual maintains. Interestingly, SEAD-3 also establishes a policy requiring security clearance holders to report certain derogatory information about other clearance holders of which the reporting individual becomes aware.


2018 continued the trend we’ve seen in recent years of marijuana legalization (or at least liberalization) at the state level. With marijuana now fully legal for recreational use in some states and reduced to a civil infraction in others, countless security clearance holders continue to fall into an avoidable trap. Here is the bottom line: in the world of security clearance adjudications, the only law on this issue that matters is federal law. Marijuana remains an illegal controlled substance under federal law and arguing legality under state law or medicinal use is a losing proposition. Security clearances and marijuana are truly like oil and water: they don’t mix.


Confusion continues to surround the 2017 issuance of newly revised rules for the possession and use of foreign passports. Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4 addresses this issue and, for the first time, removes the Defense Department’s longstanding prohibition on security clearance holders possessing a foreign passport. Security clearance holders may now possess – and use – a foreign passport, provided they report the existence of the passport to security officials, only enter and exit the U.S. on a U.S. passport, and don’t use the passport as a means of otherwise exercising the benefits and privileges of citizenship in a foreign country. One additional caveat, however: applying for and/or acquiring foreign citizenship remains a potentially disqualifying security concern. The implication is that the clearance holder’s passport must have been obtained as a result of citizenship by birth or operation of law (e.g. an automatic grant of citizenship due to foreign ancestry) to not be a concern. Different federal agencies are interpreting and applying this provision differently, so proceed with caution.


This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

Related News

Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials, revocations, and the security clearance application process. He is a former investigator for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (then-U.S. Office of Personnel Management). For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com. Readers will also find a low-cost, self-help option for obtaining copies of their security clearance background investigations and DISS/Scattered Castles records at www.bigleylaw.com/security-clearance-investigation-records.