Am I active? Am I clear?
February 2, 2012 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Hey, so, turns out I was granted a U.S. secret security clearance! ...that I'm not using. I understand that the approval/eligibility is good for two years, but beyond that I have a few questions. (For one: can I apply for jobs truthfully claiming I have an "active clearance"?)

This was me about a year ago. I left the contracting job, took up a Federal position (not related to anything sensitive/classified/etc.), and didn't really give the process another thought for a while.

Fast forward a few months, curiosity comes creeping back in. (Also, I could take or leave my current job without much care.) I called up the HR person at my old firm and he happily verified that even though I left that position and took up my new one in July, my case was far enough along in the process that the investigation (an NACLC, if that matters) closed and clearance was granted in August. Which means, according to him, that I'm eligible but don't automatically have access to data until August 2013.

I said thanks and hung up, but I'm still unclear on a few things. Does this mean, if I were to apply for a new job now*, that I hold an active clearance? And since my eligibility expires, where would I have to be in the hiring process to not start the investigation process over again? (Having an offer, having started at work already, having undergone whatever follow-up investigation while already on the job...) In essence, by when would I have to start applying for jobs (and yes, I know the defense budget is getting cut) to take advantage of my current status and would this vary between departments and the intelligence community?

*I do intend to stay at my current job for at least a full year, so "now" = obviously not until after this summer.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My understanding is that yes, you have an active clearance. You would obviously just mention this to any HR person or hiring manager where you intend to apply at that point. When your clearance eligibility or what-not expires, you would have to go through another investigation.

I can't imagine it would be a deal-breaker either way, but if you wanted to save yourself the waiting-around-doing-busy-work part of the investigation, I would suggest applying earlier rather than later.
posted by wrok at 8:57 AM on February 2, 2012

This is cutting it close for summer. Your active clearance status expires after just one year if you don't have an active sponsor -- and it looks like in your current position, your clearance is not sponsored. So yes, you do have an active clearance now but this will end in August. If you do not have a new sponsor by then, you would need to go through the clearance process again for any clearance job -- and your new employer would be on the hook for the fees.
posted by mochapickle at 9:18 AM on February 2, 2012

There's a difference between an active clearance and actually being briefed.

When you leave a job with a security clearance, you get debriefed from your clearance. When you join on a new one, you then get briefed again (and go through whatever indoc) to whatever level the new job is at.

Since your investigation concluded after you'd left the job, you had never been briefed, so you didn't have to be debriefed.

Minor quibble: since classified data is all need-to-know anyway, you never "automatically have access to data" without being briefed and demonstrating a clear need to know.
posted by bookdragoness at 1:21 PM on February 2, 2012

I am mostly familiar with DoE clearance procedures, so this may be slightly different for DoD clearances.

Passing the investigation makes you eligible for a secret-level clearance, but you do not have an active clearance. An active clearance requires a sponsoring agency. You have the provisional granting of a clearance, but no sponsor, so your clearance is inactive. If a current or future employer finds a need to have you work with secret-level classified matter, they could sponsor you (or have the contracting agency sponsor you) and pick up the clearance to make it active. The two year time-frame is just the period where a re-investigation is not required.
posted by jraenar at 3:30 PM on February 4, 2012

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