There has been plenty of news in recent years about security clearances, not the least of which is the government’s new “continuous evaluation” or “CE” program.  The CE model is a dramatic departure from decades of government personnel security practices. When fully implemented, the idea is that it will eventually all-but-replace the outdated periodic reinvestigation model with an ability to flag security significant conduct (like an arrest or bankruptcy) soon after it occurs.

If you’re perusing, chances are good that you’ve heard plenty about CE. What you may not know is that you could already be enrolled in the program.  That’s an important consideration given that CE is already tripping up some cleared professionals.

Although the implementation of CE has been like watching water boil, we are starting to see the first glimpses of the program’s abilities. In recent months, we’ve encountered clearance holders flagged for an arrest, a bankruptcy, and a civil court judgment.  None of these things are, standing alone, necessarily disqualifying for a security clearance. But the unifying theme – that the clearance holder failed to self-report the incidents before getting caught – made them more problematic.

Typically, CE cases have started with a DoD clearance holder’s security manager receiving an electronic message from the Consolidated Adjudications Facility informing them of the CE flag and requesting additional information. (For non-DoD clearance holders, the inquiry is delivered from the cognizant security office to the clearance holder). A savvy clearance holder will take advantage of that opportunity to respond with a detailed memorandum – similar to how one would respond to a Statement of Reasons – to mitigate or rebut the CE report. Supporting documentation and evidence can also be attached.

The idea here is to address head-on whatever concerns (both explicit and implicit) are raised by the CE report and hopefully prevent the situation from devolving to the point that the government moves to revoke your clearance. In this sense, spending some time and money to do things right at an early stage of the process may wind-up saving you far more time, money, and stress down the road.

On the other hand, because CE is supposed to catch security significant conduct in near real-time, situations are arising more frequently now where the clearance holder has, for example, an open criminal case that may impact how free s/he is to speak freely with security officials lest such communications be used against him or her in court. Another common example we’re seeing relates to delinquent debt or bankruptcies; catching the issue in real time eliminates time to establish mitigating evidence of repayment or other resolution.

Although it is true that clearance holders have long been required to self-report certain issues between periodic reinvestigations, the guidance on what was reportable varied significantly among agencies and most agencies were lax in enforcing it prior to the issuance of uniform guidance called SEAD-3 in June 2017. That gave clearance holders in many cases built-in mitigation time between periodic re-investigations that is now evaporating with CE.

In theory, CE isn’t supposed to change much for clearance holders. After all, the Adjudicative Guidelines remain the same, as do the self-reporting requirements. In reality, a bigger net inevitably catches more fish.  Don’t be one of them.


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

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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 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