I have recently received a number of inquiries from persons who have either been denied a security clearance or have had their clearances revoked by government officials on installations across the United States. The tenor of the conversations is almost always one of defeat. Persons who lose their clearances almost always believe that they have no power to fight back. Read on to learn about your rights when the government tries to take your clearance away.
Few things can be more intimidating than the prospect of fighting the United States Government regarding your security clearance. Contractors and federal employees who work for Government agencies depend on their security clearances for their livelihood. Loss of a clearance – or refusal to grant one in the first instance – can be a devastating and life-altering event. For most people, the prospect of taking on a federal agency about the revocation of a security clearance is a daunting one. Many believe that because an agency has revoked or denied a clearance, there is nothing they can do to fight back. After all, the agency knows best . . . right? WRONG!
The truth is that the decision to revoke or deny a security clearance is almost always made by persons who may be influenced by “workplace politics,” and personal issues or problems with an applicant. In some cases, decisions to revoke or deny a clearance have been based on an employee’s desire to disqualify a particular contractor because the employee does not like working with the contractor’s employees. The power vested in those making security clearance decisions is tremendous, and all too often the power is exercised for the wrong reasons, and having little to do with the established criteria governing these decisions.
Here’s what you need to know:
Decisions regarding security clearances are tremendously important and must be based on a fair, impartial, and commonsense review of all relevant information about an applicant. Instead of focusing on one perceived problem, a decision must be based on what has been termed the “whole person” concept. This review encompasses numerous factors that must be addressed by the government in making a decision regarding a clearance. The factors include such things as 1) the nature and seriousness of the alleged conduct, 2) the circumstances surrounding the conduct and the extent that such conduct was purposeful or intentional, 3) the timing of the conduct – was it recent? Did it happen more than once? 4) whether the applicant has taken rehabilitative steps to address underlying issues (such as drug use or accumulation of large debt), 5) the potential for exploitation or coercion in the future, and 6) the likelihood of recurrence.
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