If you come to ClearanceJobs you’re probably more worried about how to obtain a security clearance (if our traffic trends are any indication). But as important as getting a clearance is the ability to keep one. And security clearance holders and applicants alike have one key strategy to seeing what types of behaviors will cost them their clearance eligibility, and those are the cases brought before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) each year.
Each year DOHA publishes its security clearance denials and revocations – and each year we unpack those top causes of clearance and denial. A few trends when it comes to how to lose a clearance emerge.
1. Failure to Address Financial Issues.
Financial issues are always far and above the top cause of clearance denial and revocation. It’s not the debt that’s the problem, most typically, however – it’s the lack of proactive planning around financial issues. You can have debt – even six figure debt – but if you have a payment plan in place or can demonstrate how your financial issues happened and what you’ve done – and are doing – to address them, financial issues can be overcome. Ignoring them can’t.
2. Liar, Liar, Clearance on Fire.
Next up is ‘personal conduct’ – the catch all term for just about any issue that can come up in the security clearance application process. If you lie on your SF-86 – personal conduct. If you disclose previously unaddressed issues during a polygraph – personal conduct.
3. Inhaling (or imbibing) Illegal substances.
Drug use issues are coming up with greater frequency, with many of them involving security clearance holders who decide to hold their clearance in one hand and take a toke (or maybe an edible) with the other. Unfortunately, drugs (and disregarding federal laws) and national security careers don’t go hand in hand. That’s not to say drug use – even drug use while holding a security clearance – can’t be mitigated. But drug use issues are absolutely tripping up more applicants.