The era of continuous vetting (CV) has left many security clearance holders confused about their self-reporting requirements. The implementation of CV combined with the release of Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 3, which formally goes into affect August 24, requires government contractors to report foreign travel, foreign contacts, foreign activities, and also includes the ‘nark rule’ – the need to report on counterintelligence concerns for others they know to hold a security clearance. The SEAD also requires self-reporting new adverse information, specifically bankruptcy, drug and alcohol treatment, arrests, cohabitants, and marriages.
Clearance holders should consider the adjudicative guidelines, and the type of information included on the SF-86. It is better to report incidents than take a ‘wait and see’ approach. In the era of CV, in particular, failing to report information could result in a personal conduct security clearance revocation. Incidents themselves – particularly a one-time negative incident – are unlikely to result in a clearance denial. So, unless that DUI is your fourth, you likely don’t need to be concerned about reporting it – but you could lose your clearance for trying to hide it.
With SEAD 3 ramping up toward implementation, many are asking who the new requirements for foreign travel and foreign contacts need to be reported to. The SEAD reads “agency head or designee” as the individual foreign activities should be reported to. Barring specific agency guidance, Facility Security Officers (FSOs) should be considered the individuals a contractor should report activities to. FSOs should reach out to their Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) field rep or other agency Cognizant Security Officers (CSOs) to clarify any additional agency or program guidance.
Self-Reporting still a requirement with CV
CV is not a replacement for self-reporting, and SEAD 3 even goes a step further with its requirements to report on counterintelligence concerns for coworkers and other clearance holders. The ‘if you see something, say something’ adage now applies to water cooler chatter. But in an era where workers can lose their jobs for bashing management online (among other places), it shouldn’t be a surprise that national security workers are held to an equally high standard.
The other key thing to remember is that an adverse issue may or may not trigger an investigation. And even if an investigation is triggered, that does not mean the individual will lose his or her eligibility. The investigation will consider all of the factors, and the whole person concept will still be applied.