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SF85 - Please calm me down.
February 20, 2013 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I have accepted a job through a contractor and start next week. I have just been sent the SF85P-S and SF85P to fill out and bring with me the first day of my job. I am freaking out. I figure if it was a super huge deal and not just a formality, they would have had me fill out this stuff a while back, right? I had no idea I would be filling this out or that the job was a federal agency, I thought it was just for the state, like civil service.

I guess what I am concerned with is them finding something and then I lose the job. Has anyone ever been through this process? The other questions on here and on some other sites talked about an adjudication process. I take it this is where you get to explain yourself?

All the other questions I find seem to have people being asked to fill this out prior to starting and then waiting to get it back before actually starting.

I need this job and the money that comes with it so badly that I am probably twigging out over nothing but the only other person I know who has been through this has had to go through it for the FBI security clearance thing and has a squeaky clean record, so they can't really offer any advice. I know to not lie about smoking pot in the past (about 6 months ago, and then prior to that not for years) and that my credit won't matter too much.

So, to clarify -

- If it was absolutely necessary for job, they would have had me fill it out weeks ago, not just bring it along on my first day?
- If something comes up, I will be given a chance to explain myself?

throwaway: askme.sf85@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have filled out the SF-85 twice for two fairly high profile government jobs. Both times it was given on my first day and not in advance. I told the truth including about various youthful drug indiscretions and didn't have any problem gaining the security clearance I needed. Agents did visit a couple of my friends that I listed on the form to confirm the information I provided. This was not a big deal. One of my references was even a gigantic flake and totally forgot about his appointment with the agent. There were no repercussions to that. It's a somewhat stressful process, but they're really not out there searching for reasons to disqualify you. Good luck!
posted by fancypants at 12:26 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


- If it was absolutely necessary for job, they would have had me fill it out weeks ago, not just bring it along on my first day?

Nope. It's very cursory. They don't expect people with problems to get this far through the process anyway.

- If something comes up, I will be given a chance to explain myself?

Yes, but beat them to it. Tell them about the pot, tell them about your debts (if any), tell them about any crimes in your past (even just arrests). As fancypants says, they're not looking for reasons to burn you. What they're looking for is things that indicate you are A) untrustworthy or B) susceptible to blackmail. The more you tell them, the more trustworthy you look, and and the number one thing that makes you susceptible to blackmail is trying to hide something from the security people.
posted by Etrigan at 12:39 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It will only be a big deal if you lie on it. Fill it out completely and truthfully and you should be fine. If you lie, they WILL find out and it WILL be a big deal (in terms of getting the clearance or not.)

IF you are going to be working as a contractor for the government, it probably IS absolutely necessary for your job in the long term, but they can probably scoot you by on temporary credentials for the time it takes for the check to come back.

You will likely be fingerprinted as part of your onboarding as well.

As said above, they are mostly looking for stuff that will mean they shouldn't trust you (ie, with money or sensitive information) or that you are susceptible to blackmail- and before you think, "oh, nobody would blackmail me, I don't have anything to give" think again- it likely wouldn't be for money but for things like, for example, your network password, or being pressured to expose a government computer system to malware, or the like.
posted by oblique red at 12:49 PM on February 20, 2013


They're more concerned about someone holding something over you than most anything else. If you admit to indiscretions such as smoking pot and you have no crazy gambling debts or illegal fetishes, then no one can use that against you either to get information from you or to get you in trouble with your job.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:12 PM on February 20, 2013


The 85 is for non-sensitive "positions of public trust." I have filled out the 86 (sensitive) a number of times, and can verify that what's said above is true in that instance as well. Disclose. Be as detailed as the form allows and if you have anything (thinking here particularly of debts) that would benefit by documentation, assemble it as time permits. Lying is a terrible idea.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:42 PM on February 20, 2013


If it was absolutely necessary for job, they would have had me fill it out weeks ago, not just bring it along on my first day?

No, it is perfectly normal to have you fill it out only once you start at the job. That is pretty much most people's experiences.

the only other person I know who has been through this has had to go through it for the FBI security clearance thing and has a squeaky clean record, so they can't really offer any advice.

He would tell you that when he started working, they only have him fill out the SF-85 or similar form at the time he started.

I guess what I am concerned with is them finding something and then I lose the job.

Were you dealing drugs, or are you still running a drug dealing ring? Are you married to an employee of a foreign embassy? Are you covering up some major crime you were involved in? Are you an alcoholic going through bankruptcy while addicted to prescription painkillers that you're getting through a connection with a corrupt pharmacist? No? Then you'll be fine.

Also: pro-tip-- keep a copy of the form, because every X years, you will have to fill it out again, and it helps to have your own copy of what your previous answers were.
posted by deanc at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


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