Youthful shenanigans that hopefully you won’t repeat? Or questionable behavior that will bulldoze your chances of being accepted into an intelligence agency position. Hindsight is 20-20 when you’re remembering that one time you maybe solicited the services of a prostitute, and you might be unsure if you should disclose the entire engagement to the federal agency you’re applying to.

One ClearanceJobsBlog subscriber finds himself in this dilemma:

I’m applying for a spot with a federal agency and could use some advice.

A little over four years ago I was on a deployment. During a long weekend my friends and I stayed together in a city. One of our friends was a virgin and some joked about getting him a hooker for his first time. We ended up sending money to one friend who then ‘ordered’ a woman to come while we all were out, and our virgin friend was alone. So, I had no contact with the woman. She did show up while we were away, but my friend wanted nothing to do with it and the woman left quite early on without anything happening. I had completely forgotten about this incident until starting my application process.

Is this something I need to mention on the SF-86 under “In the past 7 years, have you engaged in prostitution or solicited the services of a prostitute, either in the U.S. or abroad, regardless of legality?” If I mention this are my chances gone? I obviously don’t want to lie because I’m a terrible liar but if it doesn’t fall under prostitution or solicitation, I’d rather not have to deal with it. Worried about the polygraph mainly.

I’m completely clean on all legal fronts besides driving home from the bar with probably too much alcohol in my blood. (I made it home safely with no DUI) But I did mention this under the question asking about illegal activity that I wasn’t accused/charged/convicted of.

supplemental questionnaires for IC or federal law enforcement agencies

While the SF-86 does not call out prostitution, an agency’s suitability criteria may ask questions about it. After obtaining security clearance and applying to one of these three letter agencies, applicants are subjected to security and suitability assessments designed to judge your integrity, past drug use, personal finances or trouble with the law.

There are basic standards outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations at 5 CFR Section 731.202 for suitability, but most guidelines are agency-specific criteria that could halt you from starting on your first day.

We can only speculate and not give you the clear-cut answer you are looking for, but most advice is going to include “answer specifically the question you are being asked” or “be honest.” Did you engage with the prostitute? No. Did you reach out/solicit the services of one? Sounds like you didn’t.

One background investigator on the blog notes, “You are going to have to make a judgment call. Personally, I don’t think your situation is within the meaning of the question. A poly is a whole other beast though.” If you do end up undergoing a polygraph exam for this agency in the future, it would be in your best interest to disclose the situation. Another investigator instructs the original poster to “speak to it as a prank, nothing happened, and was done for shock value…immature hijinks. This way it is documented and will not come back to haunt you if going for a poly later on.”




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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ 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! 🇺🇸