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What's involved in going through a government security clearance?

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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott_lb


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Posted March 04 2005 - 09:32 AM

I am likely going to apply for a job which requires that applicants selected "will be subject to a government security investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information." This job is for a firm who apparently works with the government but is not part of the government itself. Does anyone have any idea regarding what specific types of information is looked into during such a background check? I really don't have anything to hide, however, I'm a bit curious about which parts of my life might be looked at.
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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 04 2005 - 10:27 AM

It depends. They may rumage through your garbage cans to see how much you drink. They may tap your phones. They may strap you to a polygraph and annoy you for hours, videotaping all the time. Certainly they will pull all your financial records as that's easy to do.
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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted March 04 2005 - 11:04 AM

They may even be looking at this thread Posted Image


#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted March 04 2005 - 11:34 AM

Ha, ha, ha, Scott. Probably hardly anything. They'll check to find if you have a criminal record, or if you are "known" to the FBI and/or CIA. Or if you ever were a member of an exotic political party. They won't start spying on you or tap your phone. Mostly (if not all) paperwork, I guess. Might be more thorough if you're not a (or your parents weren't) born American(s). Cees

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Don Black

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Posted March 04 2005 - 11:40 AM

Here what's someone's experience of trying to get a job with the NSA was like...

Link Here

Based on experience though, the FBI will come talk to your neighbors for a bit. Happens all of the time in the DC suburbs...

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Jon_Gregory


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Posted March 04 2005 - 02:24 PM

OK, as a person that holds a top secret, here you go. For a simple secret security clearance, they will run some checks on your background up to 10 years in the past or to your 16th birthday if you are under 26. They run your driver's license, check your credit, and other simple things. A secret clearance application is not too invasive. But they have gotten a bit stringent since 9/11. Secrete is mostly just paperwork and how fast the paperwork is past up the chain depends on how fast a secret clearance comes back usually. Now for a Top Secret and above, they get detailed. They will do all of the above plus interviews of relatives, friends and the FBI does get involved. Sometimes they will give you a lie detector test. There are other clearances above top secrete and those go even farther. They will look at everything in your past for a top secret and above. Don't try to hide anything. It is better for you to tell them, rather than them find out about it. Trust me on that one. I have seen people that tell the truth about certain things and still get the clearance and others that hide stuff and that automatically gets them denied.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Scott_lb


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Posted March 04 2005 - 04:15 PM

Thanks for the replies. I guess that isn't too bad and is pretty much what I would anticipate. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens....
"My name is El Nino which in spanish means.... The Nino!" - Chris Farley

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted March 04 2005 - 08:21 PM

Scott, You need to do a search on this site. This topic came up a while ago. I think the two big red flags are credit history and marrying a foreigner. Bad credit indicates that you haven't honored your past commitments [not trustworthy], and also might be susceptible to bribes. Two guys I worked with had their clearances pulled after having them for many years. One had married and Iranian woman and the other married a South African woman.

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   David Blair

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Posted March 05 2005 - 05:15 AM

I just got my classified clearance this past June. Here is what I had to do. The first thing that you'll do is fill out a form that asks for information that goes back 15 years. They will want to know everywhere you have lived and the name of someone who knew you when you lived at that address, this includes living with parents and away at college. You'll also need to give your employment history. For the classified clearance, someone from the Department of Personnel Mangement will call you to set up a date/time for an interview. You'll be asked questions about the info on the form you filled out. For my interview, the guy asked about my financial history (bankrupcies, more than 90 days past due on credit card payments etc), if I drank alcohol and how much/often and other random questions. The person who interviews you will then start contacting people (local people) you've named on your form, to interview them. When the local investigation is complete, everything is sent to the FBI and they will complete any other investigations. Hope this helps.
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#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Drew Bethel

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Posted March 05 2005 - 05:30 AM

I think you also have to be a US citizen.
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#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 05 2005 - 06:40 AM

Who are you working for, Number Two? That's not how it is going to sound to X04.
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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Don Black

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Posted March 05 2005 - 07:56 AM

Code word clearance is when you get access to the juicy stuff though...

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   SteveA


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Posted March 05 2005 - 10:19 AM

I wonder what kind of clearance you need to work at that famous facility near Groom Lake in Nevada?

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted March 06 2005 - 03:44 AM

I've been through the clearance procedure for an - ahem - British government organisation, and the stuff I went through was v. similar to what has already been described. [Incidentally, although I passed the procedure in the end I decided not to take the job and instead became an academic; I sometimes wonder why ...] There are several levels of checking: (1) Negative vetting (a different phrase may be used by you guys) is the first step. Basically, they check that you're not on any known terrorist lists or in groups with strong support for such organisations. Suspicions will also be arounsed if you belong to a lot of 'anti-establishment' groups that although each is legal, cumulatively may indicate a potential anti-government stance. (2) Positive vetting is where you are checked for character, financial background, etc. It's important to stress what's being looked for here. It's not just your ideological beliefs, but also your personality and most importantly, how potentially easy it would be for you to be bribed or blackmailed. E.g. a string of financial problems may mean that you would be an easy target for bribes. Likewise, your secret meetings at the local cross-dressers' club or your binge drinking won't go unnoticed. However, you can overdramatise this. E.g. practically all students run up debts whilst at college, so provided they're not excessive, chances are this won't count against you. Likewise, youthful indiscretions provided they're clearly one-offs may not count too much against you. Nobody is a plaster saint. (3) If you get the job, then you can expect the checking to continue. My father was in a high security job and was regularly vetted throughout his career. If you are in a really high security job, then you will be expected to inform your security officer if you get friendly with anyone because they will have to be vetted as well.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Win Joy Jr

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Posted March 06 2005 - 09:22 AM

For SECRET level: For the past 7 years or back to college graduation. List of employment, plaaces you lived, family (living and dead). Credit and criminal checks. A positive on either of them does not mean you will get denied. As long as you disclose it up front with a reasonale explination, they will consider it. When in doubt, disclose. If you have any questions, talk to your security officer. A Top Secret with an alphabet designation usually requires a personal interview, neighborhood check, and potentially a polygraph. These also usually examine the past 15 years.

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