Security Clearance

Dr. Crowley has years of experience in working with attorneys for individuals and for government agencies in cases where security clearance issues have been raised based upon behavioral health matters.  A detailed individual assessment, recommendations, and expert witness testimony at hearings are available, using (in the federal system) the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.

Dr. Crowley's paper on The Psychiatrist in the Security Clearance Process may be read by clicking here.

Security clearance is an important step in allowing an individual access to classified information of any type. While certainly necessary for many government positions, security clearance is also required when a private company deals with highly sensitive information.

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Once it is determined that a particular employee needs to have access to sensitive information, the individual has to be thoroughly vetted. Whether employed by a government office or a private company, access to classified information should never be given solely on the basis of rank, position or title.

Eligibility for Security Clearance

Individuals who will be given security clearance are screened for past and present behavior and for personal character. They must be able to pass full background checks and have a professional history indicating loyalty to the United States. For an individual to be granted security clearance, there must be evidence of strength of character, honesty, trustworthiness, responsible actions and the clear ability to abide by government regulations.

Security clearance will only be given to individuals who show clear evidence of sound judgment and discretion. Conflicting allegiances or a potential for coercion are disqualifying conditions for security clearance. Access to classified information will be terminated when an individual no longer has need for access.

Methods of Security Clearance

There are several excellent methods to investigate an individual for security clearance. Used in combination, these methods assure a high degree of certainty as to the candidate's character. While methods for government clearance are somewhat different from methods used with private companies, in both cases the investigation must be thorough and the results reliable.

Security Clearance for Government Agencies

Security clearance for the United States government may be temporary, or interim, and granted only for a specific event or time period. For permanent employees, security clearance must be renewed every five years. In the U.S. government, there are three classifications of security clearance, distinguished by the level of necessary security involved:

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top secret

There are several protocols involved in security clearance for the U.S. government. These may vary somewhat according to the government agency involved, such as the FBI or a branch of the military, but usually include the following:

The Office of Personnel Security and Suitability

The individual being investigated must complete the Questionnaire;for National Security Positions and other required forms completely and honestly.These forms will then be forwarded to The Office of Personnel Security and Suitability to be assessed.

Case Management System

Once the forms have been evaluated, they are turned over to the case manager of a national agency.The case manager will supervise background checks and scans for fingerprint records. The individual's history will be thoroughly evaluated relative to conduct, contacts and important events in the past as well as in the present.

Department of Security Investigator

Within weeks of the two previous investigations, the individual in question will have a face-to-face interview with a Department of Security investigator. Nothing can substitute for this direct assessment of personality and character by a trained investigator. In addition to the interview and verification of the information previously provided, the investigator will also contact law enforcement agencies in each place the individual has resided or worked.

Security Clearance Adjudicators

These highly trained personnel will rate the information they receive from investigators relative to the adjudicative guidelines for security clearances to make sure there are no discrepancies. While most individuals whose potential clearance has reached this level will be approved, complicating, inaccurate or negative findings may result in a delay or a denial of security clearance.

Security Clearance for Private Companies

Usually there are not as many agencies or departments involved in security clearance for a private company as in security clearance for the United States government, but the steps of investigation will be essentially the same. Once the candidate has completed a full questionnaire regarding personal and professional data, the information provided will be independently verified. Through both background checks and at least one face-to-face interview, the individual will be assessed according to many, if not all, of the following:

  • Work history, duties and contacts
  • Personal contacts, past and present
  • Organizations or associations
  • Interactions with law enforcement or other government agencies
  • Legal and law enforcement
  • Financial and credit history
  • Fingerprint records
  • Verification of U.S. citizenship
  • Polygraph exam
  • Checked references

Once an individual has been through a complete security clearance, the employer can be assured, with a high degree of certainty, that the person vetted is reliable and can be trusted with sensitive information.

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