Can I hope for future government employment after failing an SF85P?
February 15, 2011 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Having failed an SF85P investigation, have I wrecked any chances of future government employment?

I'm in the IT industry here in Washington, DC. About six years ago, I possessed a Secret clearance after a few years contracting for the DoD, then left for work in private industry. About a year ago, I was offered a position with a new agency, contingent on my being able to obtain a Top Secret clearance.

During the initial hiring process, one completes an SF85P form which is used to determine general eligibility for hiring. Knowing that I would be undergoing a full polygraph and other investigative actions during the course of the TS screening, I came clean about an incident of drug use in the past two years. I figured that honesty was the best policy, and as I had not been working for the government during that time, I had a chance of escaping judgment if I made it clear it was a one-time event, not to be repeated.

The agency declined my application for eligibility. However, instead of citing the instance of drug use as the reason, it turned out that my current employer had actually sponsored my Secret clearance, although I was not involved in any government work at all and was unaware that I was still cleared. As a result, it looked as if I had abused my responsibility as a clearance holder, and that led to my disqualification by the investigating office for the agency, not the admission of drug use per se.

I followed up with a protest, which received no response, and the job offer was withdrawn. Jump forward one year, and I've been informally offered a job at the same agency. Is my SF85P failure over a year ago a black mark that will likely jeopardize any future prospect of working for the government, either directly or as a contractor, or is this something that will be pardonable in time? How up front do I need to be about the agency denying my eligibility if I apply for future work with other government clients?

Any information would be helpful. Unfortunately, because of the sensitivity of this issue, I can't be frank about it with most of my other cleared friends. As far as I know, I still have the Secret clearance, although I'm loathe to mention it again in light of what happened last year.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If they offered you a job again, knowing you failed the clearance last time, they probably believe that you will be more successful this time.

Just make sure you tell the same truth you did last time.
posted by gjc at 9:04 PM on February 15, 2011

I've read pretty much all the security clearance appeals for the last two years, (what can I say there's some interesting stuff in there), the most important thing is to never ever change your story, keep strictly to it and you have a solid chance.
posted by boobjob at 10:46 AM on February 16, 2011

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