Considering all of the sensitive information that gets shared, it’s no surprise many cleared candidates wonder what may happen to the information that gets shared – will it stay with a security officer, or is there any way it could get transferred to a human resources manager or supervisor? The obvious question is – is the information on the SF-86 afforded any special protections like the Privacy Act?

Your SF-86 data is in fact protected by the Privacy Act – and that’s one of the reasons you need to submit a Privacy Act request to the government if you’d like to obtain a copy of your security clearance background investigation.

In addition to the Privacy Act protecting information applicants submit in the SF-86, today’s era of continuous vetting and self reporting have opened up more questions around what information falls under the category of protected information within the Privacy Act. Clearance holders who self report adverse information to their security officer whether written or verbal (although we generally advise applicants to leave a paper trail for what they report) are protected by both the Privacy Act and for industry clearance holders, the guidelines of the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM).

If a security clearance holder reports adverse information, the security officer will notify HR or relevant parties of a change in the security clearance holder’s status – if the clearance is denied or revoked, or if any adverse information relates to a change in the clearance holder’s eligibility.

If the government violates your Privacy Act protections, you may wonder if you have legal recourse. Wile I’m unfamiliar with specific cases involving a clearance holder’s information being compromised and suing the government, it’s possible it has happened. The most notable case of federal workers suing the government for a Privacy Act violation is the federal union lawsuits against the government in the wake of the OPM data breach.

If you think the government has violated your privacy rights, or you have concerns about your SF-86 data being shared improperly, it may be best to consult a security clearance or employment law attorney versed in these issues.


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