You would think the 135-pages of the SF-86 would be enough of a negative deterrent to keep applicants with no chances of passing from applying – but reading through the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) cases reveals the eQIP form alone may not be enough of a deterrent for some applicants.

True or False: You should go ahead and submit a clearance application even if you have no intention of going through with it.

A recent applicant for a security clearance was a 33-year-old, unmarried defense contractor applying for his first security clearance, and with a drug use history that could probably fill a book. The applicant listed some of his drug use on the SF-86 – but not all of it, because he said he didn’t want his employer to find out.

The applicant was incredibly honest during his security clearance interview, however. He noted that he had used marijuana more than 1,000 times, used mushrooms, used prescription drugs not prescribed to him, and sold illegal drugs in 2011. He continues to associate with illegal drug users, and said that unless he could make more money with a clearance than without one, he would continue to use it.

He said that he wouldn’t let his drug use affect his career, and that he would only use marijuana going forward. The DOHA case noted:

“He admitted that he was not fully candid when he filled out his SF 86 because he was trying to “save face” and protect his long term job security because he was concerned his employer might review his completed SF 86. He did not want his employer to know about his drug involvement other than with marijuana and asserted that his employer does not need to know about it. He opined that if there were no legal repercussions for lying about his illegal drug use, he would probably lie about the use to a prospective employer.”

Security and Employment Issues

The reality is that in general, security officers don’t share the details of the SF-86 with employers or HR – there has traditionally been a clear demarcation between the security and human resources sides, because the kinds of questions included on the SF-86 are things human resources professionals don’t really want to know about.

That said, you can’t hide a denial or revocation – and that can lead to employment questions or issues around integrity, particularly if your application was submitted with intentionally inaccurate information.

False: Take the SF-86 seriously, and only if you intend to do cleared work.

If you’re submitting the SF-86, it goes without saying you should take it seriously. Submitting an SF-86 if you have no intention to stop using drugs or even take a cleared job is never a good move. It wastes the government’s time and money, and your employers. For the individual who had used weed 1,000 times – and had no intentions to stop – the security clearance was clearly not in the cards.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer
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