A security clearance application only exists for so long – every five years you’ll still need to update the information you provided in your initial SF-86. But one of the requirements that lasts forever is that you hold your tongue, and those requirements are spelled out specifically in the SF-312, the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that typically comes on the heels of any successfully granted security clearance.
What is the SF-312?
The SF-312 is a simple, straightforward form. The more important aspect of the NDA is typically the onboarding or security training that comes alongside it. A security officer should explain what classified information is, how to spot it within your specific position, and the protocols necessary to keep it safe. Training ensures cleared employees are equipped to comply with the SF-312 NDA and know the procedures around handling classified information.
While proper training is key, as with all aspects of the security clearance process, applicants should also be self-informed. As you sign the SF-312, be aware that it creates legal penalties for failure to adhere to the form. Those penalties can be administrative, civil, or criminal. The SF-312 must be signed with a witness, but effective in May of 2022, digital signatures were accepted in some cases.
What about other NDAs?
While the SF-312 is the NDA that matters for cleared professionals, some individuals have asked about policies or procedures for security clearance applicants who have other NDAs in place – do those NDAs allow for omitting information that’s required in the SF-86? This is where it’s advisable for applicants to consult with an employment law attorney or read the fine print of any prior NDAs carefully. NDAs that may have been signed as a part of a civil suit, employment issue or for other reasons are likely governed by specific state laws. Not filling out the SF-86 completely and accurately is not an option, so there may be instances where a previously issued NDA and a security clearance career would go together like oil and water.