Security Clearance: What Gov't Checks for Approval

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In summary: For my clearances they have always checked the same things (off the top of my head):- Family background (names, age, nationalities, locations of birth, time known...)- Places lived- Employment history- Educational history- Criminal history- Travel history- Group membership historyThe tough part is trying to remember all of the details if you have moved around a fair amount. It gets tough and you can not leave anything out or it gets kicked... hard.
  • #1
waht
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When obtaining a security clearance to work for a government, what type of things do they usually check?
 
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  • #2
Everything! You should expect unexpected visits to friends and family and former and current employers. You should also expect that they will examine the histories of people close to you. I had an older friend (now deceased) that was in danger of having his clearance revoked because a daughter moved to Canada in the 1960s with a boyfriend who was suspected of having moved there because he opposed the Viet-Nam war.
 
  • #3
turbo-1 said:
Everything! You should expect unexpected visits to friends and family and former and current employers. You should also expect that they will examine the histories of people close to you. I had an older friend (now deceased) that was in danger of having his clearance revoked because a daughter moved to Canada in the 1960s with a boyfriend who was suspected of having moved there because he opposed the Viet-Nam war.

wow, didn't realize they would check your family/friends like that
 
  • #4
waht said:
wow, didn't realize they would check your family/friends like that
If your security clearance is high enough, they will also screen your whole neighborhood. Not kidding.
 
  • #5
Tis true. My brother now works for ICE and they interviewed his kindergarten teacher in that process. They didn't interview me though... probably a good thing :)
 
  • #6
I live near the CIA. I have feds knock on the door like once a year for people I don't know.

"Does so and so leave the house at strange hours? You ever see people going in and out of the house?, etc, etc"

Also had a Mormon friend who told me a story about getting polygraphed for a very high level position at the justice department -- he was so clean they thought he was up to something because most people have SOMETHING tawdry.
 
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  • #7
Actually, they are mainly interested in whether you actually exist or not, in other words you are who you say you are. Governments plant people who pretend that they are native Americans. That is why they interview so many people and so far back. They actually don't care at all about your politics as long as you are not a member or supporter of a group that wants to violently overthrow the US government.
 
  • #8
Yeah, from what I hear they just want to see if you have anything that can be used as blackmail. They don't really care that you smoked pot in high school.
 
  • #9
wildman said:
Actually, they are mainly interested in whether you actually exist or not, in other words you are who you say you are. Governments plant people who pretend that they are native Americans. That is why they interview so many people and so far back. They actually don't care at all about your politics as long as you are not a member or supporter of a group that wants to violently overthrow the US government.
This is SO not true that it can't qualify as wrong. Before you can get a security clearance, you have to pass a lot of hurdles that are a lot higher than represented here.
 
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  • #10
turbo-1 said:
If your security clearance is high enough, they will also screen your whole neighborhood. Not kidding.

That's too extreme, but I understand the need for it.


Tis true. My brother now works for ICE and they interviewed his kindergarten teacher in that process. They didn't interview me though... probably a good thing :)

they had good taste

I live near the CIA. I have feds knock on the door like once a year for people I don't know.

Do they actually ask if you know some person and give you their name or photo?

Yeah, from what I hear they just want to see if you have anything that can be used as blackmail. They don't really care that you smoked pot in high school.

looking for hooks, and potential holes to exploit - what if they feel tempted?
 
  • #11
waht said:
Do they actually ask if you know some person and give you their name or photo?

Yes. No photo though. Come to think of it.. I don't recall them ever saying the name either. They usually point to their house.
 
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  • #12
The most important part is be honest with them because they will find out everything about you and if they think you weren't honest your done. If its for TS or above you will be polygraphed too.
 
  • #13
For my clearances they have always checked the same things (off the top of my head):
- Family background (names, age, nationalities, locations of birth, time known...)
- Places lived
- Employment history
- Educational history
- Criminal history
- Travel history
- Group membership history

The tough part is trying to remember all of the details if you have moved around a fair amount. It gets tough and you can not leave anything out or it gets kicked back. I have had follow up interviews because of my applications.
 
  • #14
FredGarvin said:
- Group membership history

Wow, sounds like every PFer may expect visit of sad, seriously looking gov officials next time Fred will need clearance.

Do they visit abroad?
 
  • #15
turbo-1 said:
Everything! You should expect unexpected visits to friends and family and former and current employers.

And professors. I've received visits (both at the office and at home) from investigators checking out former students who applied for jobs that required security clearances.
 
  • #16
FredGarvin said:
For my clearances they have always checked the same things (off the top of my head):
- Family background (names, age, nationalities, locations of birth, time known...)
- Places lived
- Employment history
- Educational history
- Criminal history
- Travel history
- Group membership history

The tough part is trying to remember all of the details if you have moved around a fair amount. It gets tough and you can not leave anything out or it gets kicked back. I have had follow up interviews because of my applications.

Aye.

I got mine shortly after graduating. In the 7..(9 *sigh*) years of college, I had lived in some 13 or so places. I had to spend an afternoon driving around to all of them and getting the addresses.

It's really not a hard process at all. If anything shows up, they have someone from the FBI (IIRC) come and interview you so you can explain it a little better.

As said before though, just be honest, they will find out. They don't care about a lot, they just care that you do in fact exist, and aren't a terrorist. I actually had a pending arrest charge (was completely dismissed btw! just to clear that up), which wasn't a big deal at all.
 
  • #17
What are they actually looking for? Things that would put you in a situation bad enough that you'd be tempted to do anything to get out of them. Things that indicate your sole motivation for getting a sensitive job is to obtain classified information.

Signs of financial trouble
Family in hostile countries
Behavior that could get you blackmailed
Membership in anti-government groups

Current things can cause you problems. In other words declaring bankruptcy years ago because a family member was in an accident and had huge medical bills won't hurt you since you're off the hook for the debt, now. Having huge current bills that you can't pay will hurt you even if they were because of bad luck.

Past things can only cause you problems if they're the type of thing likely to recur. In other words, there should be a reason for past financial problems better than "I just forgot to pay them". Drug problems and alcohol problems are good reasons to get a clearance denied. Both tend to result in frequent problems that could put a person in situations they need to get out of.

Affairs that your spouse doesn't know about can get you into trouble. People will go to extreme measures to prevent the break up of their marriage. An affair that your spouse does know about won't get your clearance denied (unless the affair ticks off your spouse and they spill every dirty secret about you they know to investigators).

Pending criminal charges will almost always result in your clearance being denied at least until some type of resolution has been made. Once again, unless you're talking serious charges or the behavior indicates you're a person likely to have recurring problems, it's what you might do to get out of the charges that's more important than the result of the case. In fact, once you get a clearance, pending charges are a sure fire way to get your clearance temporarily suspended (using common sense, of course - pending charges for some minor offense that could result in a $100 fine isn't exactly the type of thing a person would sell his soul to get out of).
 
  • #18
minger said:
I actually had a pending arrest charge (was completely dismissed btw! just to clear that up), which wasn't a big deal at all.
Inquiring minds want to know...
 
  • #19
I can tell you for a fact that it did not involve alcohol and an over-zealous campus policeman.
 
  • #20
minger said:
I can tell you for a fact that it did not involve alcohol and an over-zealous campus policeman.

Redundant, maybe...:smile:?
 
  • #21
lisab said:
Redundant, maybe...:smile:?

Your campus police didn't exist just to keep the real police out?
 
  • #22
They will also visit strangers that live on your block to ask their opinions. I've been approached a few times by Government agencies doing security clearance on a neighbor, that I didn't even know. They wanted to know of activities, people I'd seen around their house that looked out of place. I just declined saying that I hadn't really noticed the house in question. Don't tick off any neighbors.
 

Related to Security Clearance: What Gov't Checks for Approval

1. What is a security clearance?

A security clearance is a determination made by the government that an individual is eligible for access to classified information. This access is necessary for individuals to perform their duties in certain government positions or contracts.

2. How does one obtain a security clearance?

To obtain a security clearance, an individual must first be sponsored by a government agency or contractor. They must then complete a background investigation and pass a security clearance review by the appropriate government agency.

3. What types of information and activities are investigated during a security clearance review?

The government will review an individual's personal and professional history, including their education, employment, and references. They will also investigate their financial history, criminal record, and any potential foreign influence or affiliations.

4. How long does a security clearance last?

The length of a security clearance can vary, but the standard is 10 years for top secret clearances and 5 years for secret clearances. However, the government can revoke a clearance at any time if an individual no longer meets the requirements or if new information comes to light that could compromise their eligibility.

5. Can a security clearance be transferred between government agencies?

Yes, a security clearance can be transferred between government agencies as long as the new agency has a need for the clearance level and the individual's eligibility has not changed.

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