Security clearance terminology is important in understanding the process as a whole. People either have a clearance or they don’t have a clearance. Your clearance in investigative terms can be either “current” or “out-of-date.” People commonly use the terms “active,” “current,” and “expired” to mean:

  • Active: a clearance that has not been terminated.
  • Current: a terminated clearance that is still eligible for reinstatement.
  • Expired: a terminated clearance that is no longer eligible for reinstatement.

So, what constitutes a person needing access? What does Continuous Evaluation (CE) have to do with the matter?

This rendition of Ask CJ from the ClearanceJobsBlog tackles the movement of positions and various levels of (and need) of access:

“I held a TS Clearance and then took another job that only requires a Secret clearance. My TS clearance has since expired. Does it automatically get downgraded to a Secret, and when would it expire? Or do I no longer have a clearance?”


The reason you maintain clearance is because the contract (or agency) position you are attached to requires it. Therefore, if you leave a position requiring top secret security clearance, you no longer have it.

A clearance is terminated when a person leaves a position for which that level of clearance was granted. Cleared workers who no longer require access to classified information can maintain clearance if they start work on another cleared contract (even if it’s a lower level required clearance)

So if the original poster entered a Secret level role, that sponsoring agency took over their clearance and would manage the periodic reinvestigation, which will soon be a moot point as all DoD clearance holders be a part of the larger continuous vetting process by the end of this year.

That is why investigation dates were important to remember prior to CE.


If you are still in the Secret level role and have no pending incident reports to have your clearance administratively withdrawn, your Secret clearance would still be considered active.

Your safest bet is to ask your Facility Security Officer (FSO) the status of your clearance, check if you are under continuous evaluation yet, etc. This will ensure you are applying to the best positions to fit your security clearance credentials if you are in the job search.

But in a nutshell, a secret squirrel should really know what level clearance they need for the program they are currently working on  🌰🐿️

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸