For most of the cleared workforce, security refresher training is an annual annoyance akin to completing one’s taxes. It has to be done, but it’s not something anyone volunteers to do.
However, if you’ve recently been involved in a security infraction or violation, it may be time for a strategic reconsideration of that viewpoint. That’s not to say that you have to force yourself to “enjoy” security refresher training; rather, it’s to say that you should consider voluntarily subjecting yourself to more of it as a preventative measure.
Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, consider this: of the countless security clearance denial and revocation cases I’ve handled over the years, every single one involving security incidents could have been or was at least partially mitigated by additional training. That’s because one of the potentially mitigating conditions under the National Adjudicative Guidelines for Security Clearances is that “the individual responded favorably to counseling or remedial security training and now demonstrates a positive attitude toward the discharge of security responsibilities”.
What could be more demonstrative of a “positive attitude toward the discharge of security responsibilities” than voluntarily and proactively seeking out additional security training on one’s own time?
When clients come to me with a security clearance revocation case (or fearing one) following their involvement in a breach of security, this is one of the first things we advise them to do. It certainly still adds mitigating value if done after the client is notified by the government of an intent to revoke their clearance; but it adds even more mitigating value if done without prompting. So, if you’ve been involved in a security infraction or violation, I highly recommend that you consider getting out ahead of the curve on this one.
The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) offers free, online security training on a variety of topics accessible here. Upon successful completion of a course, the student is provided with a printable PDF certificate of completion that can prove extremely valuable in swatting down a security clearance revocation effort.
DCSA notes that its courses are intended for use by Department of Defense and other U.S. Government personnel and contractors within the National Industrial Security Program – and that some courses require a security clearance and/or the completion of prerequisites. I advise tailoring courses to the specific concern in an individual case (for example, if your security incident involved mistakes relating to derivative classification, try to find a class or classes that specifically cover that issue). If that’s not possible in light of course limitations, there are other entities that offer similar training, albeit of varying utility. Facility Security Officers and Special Security Officers can frequently also serve as helpful resources.
This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the information is believed to be accurate as of the publication date, no guarantee or warranty is offered or implied. Laws and government policies are subject to change, and the information provided herein may not provide a complete or current analysis of the topic or other pertinent considerations. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation.