Federal Security Clearances – No Thanks!

I’ve (luckily) never had one – and after this week, never plan to either.  I was asked to complete the SF86 form to get a secret clearance for a company that liked my resume, but didn’t have any active work – and anything they had would require at least a secret clearance.  So, without being employed by them, they started the process of getting me a clearance.

I have now met the SF86 form, and I will not have a federal clearance for at least 7 years.  Why?  There’s one annoying question on it that makes my life practically impossible: “Have you provided support to a foreign group or organization in the last 7 years that was not listed as a previous employer?” (Or something along those lines).  Of course, I have – I am a consultant.  I have provided a *lot* of support and time to foreign companies – it’s kinda what I do for a living.  But trying to remember each contract and each contact at the company that I helped?  Not so much.

Almost all of our direct clients are US-based companies, but they do business with foreign companies that I’ve assessed, and some of them have offices in other countries (or have acquired a foreign company).  According to the security officer I was working with, I’d have to list all of those – over the last 7 years.  My best guess is that over the last 7 years, I have visited and advised at least 200 foreign contacts at foreign (and US-based) companies.  I could probably name the companies, but not the individuals at each companies.

While it severely limits me in the job search (especially in the DC area), I will not be taking any position that requires a clearance.  There are some things that are just not worth it.

8 thoughts on “Federal Security Clearances – No Thanks!

  1. Kirsten

    I’ve had to fill out that form before and it is annoying no matter your situation (but yes, yours is *especially* bad). Pre Facebook, it was hard to keep up with a point of contact for each job, each period of unemployment (which happened between every semester for me in college), each place you’d lived. When my first form was printed off, it was over 50 pages. The security office had never seen one so long (probably because people like you just say “screw it”)!

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    1. Mom Post author

      Luckily, I had been at the same job for 10+ years, so that part was easy, but during those 10 years, I went all over the world consulting with folks – on information security – a sensitive subject to start with (half the time, when I entered a country, I had to say I was a consultant there for “business meetings”, which was true, but not the entire truth…)

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  2. Mrs PoP @ planting our pennies

    I had my clearance done when in college and tracking down all the addresses where I had lived and who I had lived with in the 5 years previous was actually quite hard. (Who keeps in touch with random roommates from summer internships? Or house shares?)
    That said, I am glad I had it even if it is now expired. I have always gotten good feedback in interviews and job hunts for having the clearance previously – as though it moves me automatically to an “11” on a 1-10 sale of trustworthiness. Though perhaps that might be different now after the NSA scandals of the last year. Who knows?

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    1. Mom Post author

      Dad has an active clearance now, and previously held a TS/SCI with polygraph, so I know the process. Luckily, even in a married couple, my travel and my contacts (unless they are also his contacts, which some are) don’t count. A good number of my friends also have clearances and I was one of their references. I might consider it again in 7-10 years when I wouldn’t have to answer that question, but hopefully, by then I’ll be retired and not need one!

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    1. Mom Post author

      I’m not sure that I’m typical when filling out such a form – and it might be why I almost never hear of consultants going into cleared work (unless they’re already there)

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  3. No Nonsense Landlord

    Maybe you can put the description “Various”, and list them all as one? I do not think that working for one qualifies as the definition of ‘Support’. They are paying you for work, you are not supporting them.

    I would just put down ‘No’.

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    1. Mom Post author

      I checked with the Security Officer – I have to list all of them. It doesn’t really matter all that much any more as I’ve taken a position that doesn’t require clearance 🙂

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