This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, a local employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.,
The District is home to many federal employees and government contractors that hold security clearances. These federal employees and government contractors are required to apply for and maintain security clearances. In some cases, the security clearance application process is straightforward.
However, if problems arise, they are typically discovered when the employee or contractor is about to complete his or her security clearance application through e-QIP or the government’s Standard Form 86. If possible, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney who handles security clearance matters since each case is different. The following are some general guidelines:
Take time and answer security clearance forms carefully
This is one of the most important tips. Individuals often receive clearance denials because they did not adequately read the questions asked or proofread their responses on the e-QIP/SF-86 application prior to submission.
In some cases, if an individual does not take the time to read the question and answers “no,” when they should have answered “yes,” a clearance investigator might conclude that the individual was attempting to be dishonest. Such an oversight can be detrimental to obtaining or keeping a security clearance.
This recommendation cannot be overstated. Individuals should be honest in all aspects of the clearance process. When an individual is dishonest during the clearance process, it could not only potentially bar the individual from receiving a security clearance, which would remain on his or her clearance record, but it could also raise a host of other legal issues, including potential criminal issues.
It is much easier for a security clearance attorney to mitigate security clearance concerns involving financial, prior drug or alcohol usage issues than defend against an allegation involving dishonesty in the clearance application or interview process. An applicant should consult with a security clearance attorney for legal advice if there are any possible criminal disclosures or issues.
Review documents in advance
Take the necessary time to gather and review relevant documents related to any potential security clearance problem in advance. Taking this step will help an individual in two ways: (a) it will help an individual remember all the details of the potential security concern, such as an arrest or bankruptcy filing that occurred three years ago; and (b) the documentation may help to mitigate the security concerns later, if necessary.
In our next post, in two weeks, we’ll discuss how to prepare for your investigative interview.