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Security Clearanceo

Joel, what is DOD security clearance?
And why do employers look for them?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

DoD is the United States Department of Defense, and employers require it when you are going to be working on projects that require military/security clearance -- in other words you are going to encounter something at some time that might possibly be interpreted as being a military secret and you need to be checked out to make sure that you don't secretly work for Al-Qaida, or the Spanish, or any of Halliburton's enemies like Bechtel, or wear ladies underwear (if you're a man).

I'm pretty sure there are different levels of it, too.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

oh, wait I forgot:


Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Also, employers look for them because to get one, you need a sponsor. And the sponsor has to pay a lot of money.

So if you already have a clearance, it means the employer gets someone eligible for DoD work and someone else (probably a previous employer) has already paid for it.

It's really common here in the DC area. If you have one, you've got it made in the shade. If you don't -- you're stuck in a Catch-22.


Joe Grossberg
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Temp agencies often provide a way to get them. At least in Canada, I don't know about down south.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Having worked on projects that needed security clearances, let me mention that secure documents are for the most part no more interesting than any other documents.  The military puts some sort of security clearance on just about every piece of information it has, even if it is just the maintenance schedule of some motor.

Keith Wright
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Does anyone know if you can you get a security clearance if you had an alcohol problem and went to rehab sixteen years ago?  (No problems since.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

anon - I don't know, but you should have no problem becoming President or VP.

Dick Cheney
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It very much depends on how nice the inspectors are feeling, from what I gather.

Back in the cold war, my father was ineligable because his all of his great-grandparents were from Poland.  If members of your extended family (parents, in-laws, etc) are not US citizens, you may not get clearence.

The part that really sucks is that the employers don't always know (and I doubt that it's public information) about exactly what the requirements are, so you may be rejected by the employer or prospective employer even though you might actually pass.  This is especially prevelent if you are applying for a job.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Check this page out for as many details as you're likely to get (from a reputable source, that is):

dir at badblue com
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The best indications of the current criteria are the reports of the appeal decisions for rejected clearances:

While most of these appeals were denied, keep in mind that all were close enough to reversal that the government contractor was willing to pay for the appeal and its additional investigations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Thank you dir and James.

Both sites are helpful and I'd had a heck of a time sifting through all the noise on Google.


Joe Grossberg
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

!!! What do they have against wearing woman's....




Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Security clearances used to go way back.  Now most only go back 7 years.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The important thing is that you tell the investigator about the women's underwear (or whatever else floats your boat!) even if you think it's irrelevant.  Don't let them find this out from somebody else!  In addition to direct security risk factors, they'll ferret out anybody who's susceptible to bribery (ie: deep in debt) or blackmail (didn't tell the investigator about embarassing foibles).

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The inspectors who grant clearances are evaluated on how many applications they can process in a given amount of time. A quota, if you will. The easiest way to completely process an application is to reject it. Consider the implications of this.

I had a clearance about 12 years ago. My original application was denied because it was sent in on the 1972 form instead of the 1975 form. The difference? A pre-printed line in the upper right hand corner.

Sent the exact same information, in the exact same places on the form, in again, wait another three months (starting to worry about my job at that point, since it required the clearance), and it was finally granted.

It expired a long time ago, and I'm actually glad to be rid of the thing. Too much responsibility for my book. :-)

Chris Tavares
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Chris, it may be a government-agency-vs.-industry thing or a change in the process, but the investigators I worked with were contractors who made it clear that they were happy to do whatever work was necessary to uncover whatever info was needed.  They also made it clear, though, that my employer was paying for their time.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Actually, your "sponsor" does NOT have to pay for it at all.  If you work for a contractor, say Boeing, or Lockheed, or General Dynamics, that company has to employ you while sponsoring your clearance.  But the GOVERNMENT AGENCY for which youre being investing is actually paying for the investigation and possible polygraph.  Not the contracting company.

Monday, May 3, 2004

Poly, my understanding is that the government agency either passes on the investigation cost to the contractor or negotiates a hard limit on the number of contracted employees to be cleared as part of a specific contract.  But that's just hearsay...I thankfully have nothing to do with Federal procurement. :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

James, with DoD customers,  that is -not- the case.  The government pays for the clearance, while the company sponsoring your clearance must add you to their payroll.  So if that company only has cleared work, the company must find something else for you to do.  That's the catch.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Just to stick my 0.02 here...

There are numerous levels of Clearances and then gradients within each.. starting from the lowest:

Suitable (National Agency Check (NAC) or National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI))
Secret (S)
Top Secret (TS)
Top Secret - Special Compartmentalized Information with Lifestyle Polygraph (TS-SCI)

The DoJ(ustice) has their set of clearances which DO NOT transfer over into other departments.  Some do not even transfer within the department to other agencies.
(ie.  If you're cleared with the DEA, it doesn't necessarily mean much to the FBI.)

The Do(Defense) has their set of clearances which transfer within relatively easily*.

Then, generally only within TS-SCI, there is a "Code Word" status which is the end-all be-all of clearances.  These projects are the ones which technically even their name is classified as TS.

* "Relatively Easily" in government lingo is usually a multi-month process.

Sunday, May 9, 2004

There are clearances above these, too, of course, but nobody's able to talk about them.

I work in the D.C. area with a lot of people who've had to get clearances, and it wasn't a hideously involved process.  For most, it took a couple of months to get Secret clearances.

Brent P. Newhall
Thursday, July 22, 2004

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