How to handle a past DUI and security clearance in a small company.
August 11, 2010 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Security clearance with a past DUI, how to handle it with bosses.

So my boss (at a very small company) has handed me a "Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions Form" with the intent of obtaining a secret clearance for a DoD contract.

The problem is that I was convicted of DUI approximately 3 years ago (been with the company for 5). At the time I was in working in a remote office (still in US, but half way around the world). I never told them and it didn't effect my work at that time at all. I went to all the classes, paid my fines and everything, and I'm a lot wiser now. Its not going to happen again.

My question is how do I handle this. To elaborate:

a.) Should I call up the lawyer who handled my case, see if he can get it expunged or get good advice?

b.) I know I can't lie about it, but I want to be desecrate as possible. Any advice for this?

c.) Actually breaking it to them: I was thinking I'd ask for a meeting and privately tell them (my 2 bosses). Explain it was a mistake, that I've learned from and that it won't be repeated. I'm concerned about the trust issue here. Should I possibly tell each of them separately, one of my bosses probably slightly more understanding.

d.) I'm not really concerned about being denied clearance, from what I understand lying about this will get me denied, but as long as I'm honest this won't prevent me from receiving clearance. Is this a correct assumption?

Thanks Hivemind.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
a -- No need. Just be honest.

b -- Fill in what exactly you were convicted of and move on.

c -- Tell them separately. Start with the one you work for most directly. Let him tell the other one, or do it yourself if he suggests it.

d -- Yes. Put it on the form. DoD doesn't care whether you're a drunk driver -- they care whether you are vulnerable to blackmail. If no one can come to you and say, "If you don't give me these secrets, I will tell your boss you have a DUI in your record," then you're much less vulnerable to blackmail. If they find out you lied on the form, you are guilty of fraud and will almost certainly never get another clearance or government job.
posted by Etrigan at 12:28 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

If I get your question, are you concerned about your bosses finding out about your 3-year-past DUI or are you concerned about being denied clearance? Or both?

Certainly don't lie about the DUI! Just put down all the information on the forms. While no one can say for sure that it won't affect your clearance, we can say for sure that if you lie about it, it definitely will affect your clearance.

As for telling your bosses, well, you were under no obligation to tell them about it when it happened. But it is a good idea to let them know about it before they see it on the forms. I agree with Etrigan -- sit down with each of your bosses, one at a time, and let them know that when you've completed the form, they'll see that you had a DUI several years ago and you didn't want them to be surprised by it. Then say everything you've said here.
posted by devinemissk at 12:39 PM on August 11, 2010

Check out these writeups of clearances. Do not do not cover it up. That's worse than the event itself in the eyes of people granting clearances.
posted by inigo2 at 12:49 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

Great link, inigo2--those make for a fascinating read!
posted by partylarry at 1:18 PM on August 11, 2010

posted by inigo2 at 2:26 PM on August 11, 2010

Don't sweat it, just report it. No big deal.
posted by Doohickie at 3:05 PM on August 11, 2010

Actually, if your job is anything like mine, you *were* under an obligation to tell them about it back when it happened. I'd keep that in mind when talking to them and be ready to apologize for the oversight, but, yeah. Tell your bosses and put it on the form. You should probably be okay, since you're just going for secret and not TS.
posted by wending my way at 4:47 PM on August 11, 2010

As someone who has baggage and has been thru the clearance process multiple times, just be straightforward and honest. If they want additional information they will get back to you. My subcontractor add aprior DUI and got cleared.
posted by Xurando at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2010

I believe they are looking for a felony, not a misdemeanor. And I agree with everyone else, don't lie. Half your company probably had one or nearly had one. You can get one after having 2-3 drinks, so it's not like people will assume you're a full-blown alcoholic. Since you only had one, it's not a big deal.
posted by Choppy at 7:29 PM on August 11, 2010

When I first saw that post, I read a lot of those summaries. It seems like as long as there's not a pattern of behavior involved and your finances are clean, you'll be fine as long as you don't lie.
posted by wierdo at 7:40 PM on August 11, 2010

Be prepared for this to raise a lot of questions and slow down your process a bit. Make absolutely sure all of your other information is rock solid. This one incident may not disqualify you, but it will almost certainly make you a lot more interesting to the folks doing your investigation.

To be prepared for the worst, try to at least locate a local lawyer who specializes in clearance issues. I live in an area with a lot of government workers who need clearances; one of our local lawyers advertises on NPR as a clearance specialist.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 10:33 PM on August 11, 2010

How long until these questionnaires start asking whether your used an anonymous askme posting to decide how to fill them out?
posted by jrockway at 1:47 AM on August 13, 2010

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