Any way to get @#%#& TS/SCI Clearance?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by John_Berger, Aug 24, 2003.

  1. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    Being ... er ... "between jobs", I'm looking to improve my employment status. As a UNIX/Solaris administrator, things are pretty light in this area, hence why I'm "between jobs". [​IMG]

    There are a large number of Solaris positions in Maryland and the DC area, but a huge number of them require active TS/SCI (Top secret/special) Clearance. Whereas I understand that if this is for government agencies TS/SCI Clearance is mandatory for the job, it's so unbelievably infuriating to see that - basically - even if your skill sets exceed all other potential employees, you won't even be considered if you don't have TS/SCI Clearance, but the only way to get TS/SCI Clearance is by having an employer sponsor you. This is pretty much analogous to the "you can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience without a job" crap that a lot of us had to deal with immediately after college.

    Can anyone shed any light on this? Is there any way for civilians to get this clearance on their own? The situation and quite annoying.
     
  2. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Well, if you've never had Security Clearence, it can be a Looooonnnnggg process, sometimes 6 months or so, so if a job requires it, you might be doing menial paperwork and lots of reading in the meantime. Perhaps the employers want somebody right away. As I have a security clearence and know a bit about the industry, seems like defense projects always are either full-tilt on or completely in limbo. That's the reason why they are looking for people who have clearence or who have had clearence within the last 10 years or so as it is typically easier to renew clearence than to start from scratch.

    I would ask HR of the company and explain your experience and perhaps try to see how flexible they are, if you have the goods, then they may waive that requirement, but you have to find out. Mibht be worth a shot, but it is interesting that they require a Top Secret clearence, which the normal guy doesn't even get (I have a Secret clearence) and you have to apply for it based on need. That might be a problem...

    Jay
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Correct. The SCI clearance process is totally FUBAR right now due to severe screw ups at the FBI and DISA, they blew several million dollars on a computerized system that never worked. So people with secret clearances were taking over 2 years to get their SCI. Do a search at USA today and you should be able to find some articles about that disaster.

    To get an SCI your company actually has to have something called a 'billet' for you, in other words there are only so many slots that each company is allocated. Without current employment it is impossible for an individual to go get an SCI.

    So all those Homeland security companies that are in a hiring frenzy are beating up on the very small pool of people that have clearance, cause its EASY to transfer between companies if you have a clearance but hard as hell to get a new one.

    This is GREAT news for you if you are cleared and willing to move to DC, as you are in the drivers seat and can make a killing going to a new job, but a major PITA for companies who need qualified people.

    Sam
     
  4. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    An active security clearance is a meal ticket these days. Getting the clearance is hard and can only be done by a company sponsor.
    Man, I've heard stories of the questions they ask during the polygraph exams. People come out of those things crying and feeling like they've been violated! A coworker of mine went through a CIA polygraph exam about 10 years ago. You wouldn't believe the questions they asked him....
    Many of the defense contractors here in the DC area will sponsor a clearance if you have the job qualifications.


    Jeff
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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  6. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    It's a great thing to have. I got mine the old-fashioned way...they made me take it [​IMG] When I was in the military. TS/SCI is no joke, and it costs a company 5 figures to get...which is why it's such in demand.

    And yes, the military paperwork is abysmal and takes forever to process. Good luck!

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  7. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    John,

    I always thought that there was, "No such thing as an Unemployed UNIX Administrator"!

    I didn't read the links below, but in Businessweek 2 weeks ago they said that there was a backlog of 240,000 applications.

    Does anyone know if an Interim Secret Clearance is the same as an Active Secret Clearance?

    My Interim Clearance only took 10 days, but I have been waiting over 6 months for my final to come in.

    Jay, the wait times now are A LOT LONGER than 6 months. The only guys who get it that soon are people who already had one but let it expire.

    Jeff, only people applying for a TS take polygraphs - and some people I've spoken with said that they didn't have to take one at all.
     
  8. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Well, I got mine about 8 years ago... But I know some freshouts here who have gotten theirs in 2 months... Go figure. I don't keep current on the status these days... I know when I was waiting for mine, it was boring as hell, they'd make you read all these documents and stuff and you weren't allowed to go in the lab unless for short periods of time with an escort...

    Now it's got to be worse, because back then we'd read up on technology and stuff. with ISO and the CMM and other "processes" I've had friends do nothing but online Ethics training and ISO processes and other boring downtime crap.

    Jay
     
  9. Rob Landolfi

    Rob Landolfi Stunt Coordinator

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    Jason,

    I believe the interim clearance means that your employer (or your command, if in the military) certifies that all the paperwork has been submitted and they believe, based on an initial scan of your record/history, you meet all the requirements for the clearance, but the process hasn't gone to completion yet. You have an interim clearance to handle/see what you need to for your present position, but you may not be considered "cleared" outside your organization/command. Getting your interim is a big step, so hang in there until the "final" comes through.

    I have a TS, and though I didn't have to take a polygraph, I began laughing out loud at some of the questions from my interviewer even though I was trying to take the whole process seriously. One of my razor-sharp subordinates ensured that I filled out all the necessary paperwork prior to departing one of my old military units. Several months later at my new unit, some non-operational investigator pays me a visit and after some minor paperwork follow-up, he begins his interview. I'm guessing these guys have seen it all as I remember being asked point blank about steroids, infidelity, drug history beyond what was in the paperwork (which reached back to HS) and what kind of porno I was into. Typing this, it may look like normal info, but there was no real order to the questions... the topics jumped all over the place during our lengthy discussion, and I started laughing when I answered the porno question. My reply was, "a little here and there; there's various mags on some of the ships I was on." Not satisfied, he asked if it was of the Playboy variety, or if I was into bondage, kids, etc. I said no bondage, no kids, and he presses with "Penthouse, Club, or Hustler?" I was trying to think of what "level" he'd be comfortable with since I had no subscription to anything but he was zeroed-in on this. I was surprised that the clearance ever came through. Off-topic toward the end, but good luck in getting your situation ironed-out. My present position may require the bump-up to TS/SCI in the near future, and I'm dreading any further paperwork.
     
  10. John_Berger

    John_Berger Cinematographer

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    It's really, really frustrating. At least 1/3 of the job opportunities for which I qualify require active TS/SCI clearance before you can even apply. It's quite demoralizing when you read through a job description, "I can do that; that, too; yes, I've done that; this job is just screaming my name! Ah, [email protected]%$#%! Active TS/SCI clearance required!"

    What really stinks is that someone with 1/2 the experience (but enough to barely qualify for the job) with TS/SCI can apply and that person has to be considered over someone with much more experience and no TS/SCI.

    Life isn't fair, obviously, but it can be damned annoying at times. [​IMG]
     
  11. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    John,

    Hang in there -- there's plenty of opportunities for Unix admins in this area. Plus, not all of them need a security clearance. If you are interested in relocating to the DC area, get yourself paired with a consulting company. You'll land something in no time at all and then you can focus on networking your way into the clearance positions.

    Best of luck !! [​IMG]
     
  12. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    ***THIS POST HAS BEEN DELETED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE***
     
  13. Dave_Brown

    Dave_Brown Supporting Actor

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    Clearances are one of the most confusing and least understand aspects of the employment process. I was cleared TS/SCI many years ago and couldn't imagine the process by todays standards.
    Mine came as a result of joining the military. I did all my initial paperwork while still a senior in high school. Went off to basic and got held over after graduation because my final interim clearance wasn't ready yet. Stayed in New Jersey one extra month before being allowed to move to AIT. Once there I had all my final background checks completed. It was another six months of training before shipping off to my first government agency job.
    Because of my position I was then required to take a polygraph exam. I don't know why someone would cry over the questions because there are rules that must be followed. First they go over every question they are going to ask you before even strapping you into the machine. Second, they are only yes/no questions. What they don't tell you is they will mix up the order the questions are asked. At 18 years old, I failed my first polygraph. Even more surprising was the general area I failed was espionage and contact with foreign agents. I went back a month later and got through fine and was granted access above TS.

    Now years later in the civilian world I let my clearance expire and have only taken jobs outside of government work. Started out in Unix and am now in Storage Area Networks. I have thought from time to time of getting back in but wonder if it is worth the hassle. My final debrief was back in '97 so I guess I'm still in that 10 year window. If it is a job you are really interested in, apply anyway regardless of what the ad says. If you're skills are good and they need someone, they'll call you in to discuss it further. You can work on the non-classified side of the house while they begin the paperwork. The number one reason they typically say active clearance required is the cost involved for starting someone from scratch. Bargain with them, offer to work a few thousand a year less until the clearance is approved or something like that.
     
  14. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    The guy i work with and some friends of mine went through the TS/ Polygraph with lifestyle questions. They asked in explicit detail about sexual orientation, favorite sexual positions, types of pornography they viewed and how often, etc....



    Jeff
     
  15. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    If you are on an interim, I would not jump. Wait for the final to come in, then move. Since the process was not complete, the application may just get canceled by your old employer who paid to get it going...
     
  16. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Yeah, its easier for a 22 year old to get a clearance than an old fogie =) Even still, regular secret clearances are taking forever.

    Folks should note that it is not a good idea to advertise what clearances you hold, I'm told its not even appropriate to put on a resume, that you should add a line like 'Clearance information available upon request'.

    So, I may or may not be cleared, I'm not saying.

    Sam
     
  17. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I had to renew my clearance a few years ago. On the day I was filling out the forms the state of California deceided to garnish my wages over a tax credit I claimed. That's one of the questions so I checked the box.
    A few months later when I had an interview, the interviewer told me he always pulls credit reports beforehand and that didn't show up. He also told me thats where he catches the most people .... not reporting bills overdue or things in collection. He waits for them to say nothing and then he show them the credit report.
    Then he really makes sure everything else is true because they lied once.
    Since I was honest I blew through the rest in minutes.
    Just a point of reference for you
    Grant
     
  18. Dave_Brown

    Dave_Brown Supporting Actor

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  19. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    John,

    There *is* a way to get TS/SCI clearance...


    I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. [​IMG]
     
  20. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    They are also used to see if you can get blackmailed.
    gimme the secrets or else I will tell everyone of your Gilligan fetish!!!!

    I was also told by some friends many questions are not from the government per say .... if you are working for a contractor.
    They are from the contractor and the questions are there for grounds to lay you off....or fire you

    Have you ever stolen anything from the company...even a pencil or used a copy machine for your own use.
    99% say yes or lie
    Either way they have grounds to fire you anytime they want!
     

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