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Obtaining a security clearance, no matter the level, is the ultimate sign of trust from the government. The application process as well as the clearance renewal process includes an extensive and thorough background investigation into your personal life and financial history. Applying for a security clearance should be taken seriously and conducted with care and strategy.
We regularly assist federal employees and contractors as well as military personnel in all stages of the security clearance process and have helped hundreds retain their clearances.
If you are about to apply for your own security clearance or have recently had your application denied or clearance revoked, our lawyers can provide you with the counsel necessary to obtain and retain not only your clearance – but your job.
The type of clearance you can be granted will depend on your position, the agency or company with which you are employed, and the scope of work involved.
Foreign employment, immediate relatives and marriages and other personal relationships are screened with scrutiny during the application process. Extensive application process and background check known as a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI).
There are numerous reasons why a candidate may be denied a clearance or why a current employee’s clearance may be revoked. Throughout the investigation, including completing the SF-86 form, you will be asked about any previous or current drug use or involvement. There are three financial considerations taken into account: debt, affluence, and gambling addiction.
Financial affluence is the sudden or unexplainable purchase of goods or services beyond your sources of income. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC have decades of experience representing security clearance applicants and those facing revocation due to debt and foreclosure issues.
In a highly globalized age, it is rare to find individuals without foreign contacts or relationships. If you or your company has numerous foreign investments or contacts, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC are able to identify mitigating factors including any necessary business arrangements required to obtain clearance.
In certain circumstances, your sexual behavior and history may be analyzed to determine its criminality, your sexual compulsion or potential vulnerability to coercion. The downloading or use of pirated music, movies, television shows or software is taken very seriously by the government. The mishandling of sensitive or classified information at previous jobs will be scrutinized as it questions your ability to handle any sensitive material with the government. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC, are experienced in representing clients who have a number of disqualifying factors. Our attorneys are available to provide assistance, advice, and counsel from the initial application and interview stages to aggressive representation in the event of denial of revocation of a clearance.
Applying for a security clearance requires an in-depth background investigation of your personal history. The first step in the investigation is completing an application form referred to as the Personnel Security Questionnaire SF-86. This critical step in the process involves an in-person interview between the applicant and the investigator. Since the purpose of the interview is to determine whether you will be able to deal with having access to classified information without being a security risk, you can expect the questions to be in-depth, personal, and wide-ranging.
The interview is your opportunity to provide clarification or explanation on questionable actions, occurrences, or events in your past. Any incidents disclosed in your application or interview that indicate you may be a security risk will be evaluated on a specific set of factors referred to as the adjudicative guidelines.
A decision on your access to a security clearance should be issued within six months following your initial application. In the event that your application is denied – either during the initial application or revoked or suspended upon review – you will be issued a notice referred to as a Statement of Reasons that outlines the specific reasons, disqualifiers, or areas of concern that determined the decision. You will also be issued information regarding your right to appeal and the procedures for doing so. In addition to the list of conditions used to disqualify applicants, the adjudicative guidelines also include a list of conditions used to alleviate security concerns and, ultimately, grant you access to a clearance. Each individual’s situation is unique and requires a thorough review of the circumstances specific to your case.
If you believe the information gathered about you during the investigation is misleading or inaccurate, the appeal process is your opportunity to correct or clarify the situation and gain access to a security clearance. An attorney experienced in reviewing records and preparing written appeals will be able to assist in proving that you are not a security threat and should be granted the security clearance.
The team of security clearance attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC is familiar with the application process, adjudicative guidelines, and mitigating factors.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in assisting security clearance applicants from the first steps of the process, including the strategic review of applications and preparation for investigative interviews. Contact our offices today to speak with an experienced security clearance attorney about your individual situation. Employer Obligations to Military Personnel Under USERRA and the ADA – April 11, 2012Presenter Steven L. On November 9, 2011 the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published its final rule on changes to Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations Part 731 (5 CFR 731), “Suitability.”  The new rule went into effect on December 9, 2011. Previously federal agencies could only conduct PRs on certain PT positions using the authority provide in the Computer Security Act of 1987 and OMB Circular No. If, prior to the next required reinvestigation, a separate investigation is conducted to determine a person’s eligibility (or continued eligibility) for access to classified information or to hold a sensitive position, or as a result of a change in risk level as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, and that investigation meets or exceeds the requirements for a public trust reinvestigation, a new public trust reinvestigation is not required.
Likewise in our proposed rule amending 5 CFR part 732, dated December 14, 2010, Designation of National Security Positions, the timeframe for reinvestigations is also set at 5 years for national security positions not requiring eligibility for access to classified information. The revised Federal Investigative Standards issued by OPM in August 2011 under Federal Investigation Notice (FIN) No. Many people who find themselves filling out a Standard Form 86 (SF86), “Questionnaire for National Security Positions,” know little about the security clearance process and have a vague understanding of what might affect their eligibility to receive a clearance. The percentage of the population that might be eligible for a security clearance is much lower than 97.5%, and the percentage of the population that can actually get a job offer that results in a final clearance is probably about 65%.
Since 2007, time required to conduct a background investigation has been significantly reduced, but this has resulted in a decrease in the quality of investigative reports.
Over the past five years I’ve helped well over a thousand people with their security clearance problems and questions, and I’ve studied in detail the systemic problems in clearance processing. Applicants in the “Clean” and “Minor” categories only need to read a few authoritative articles on the process and fill out their forms carefully to avoid most of the detours and roadblocks that delay a favorable clearance decision. Those in the “Moderate” category need to study the process in depth and perhaps pay for a little professional help. Applicants whose cases fall into the “Major” category need professional help, if they want to reduce the time and increase the possibility of receiving a clearance. The cost of an attorney with more than 10 years of experience will range from $300 to $450 an hour depending on experience and location.
By comparison the cost of having simple tax returns with itemized deductions prepared by an account is about $250. Individuals who already have a clearance and encounter moderate to major security issues should also seek professional assistance. A lot has been reported during the past month about the failure of the federal security clearance process as it relates to Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter who murdered 12 people on September 16, 2013.
The Navy granted Alexis a Secret clearance in March 2008 based on an NACLC background investigation. While Alexis was on active duty with the US Navy Reserves from May 2007 to January 2011, his Navy command was aware of his 2008 arrest for disorderly conduct, his 2010 arrest for unlawful discharge of a firearm, and at least two Navy disciplinary boards related to poor performance and insubordination.
In January 2011 Alexis was released early from the Navy Reserves with an honorable discharge, and his security clearance was administratively terminated. Alexis was hired by a defense contractor in September 2012 for a position that required a Secret clearance. To get unescorted access to military bases so that he could do his work as a defense contractor employee, Alexis also needed a Common Access Card (CAC), DOD’s version of an HSPD-12 Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card.
While working at Newport Naval Air Station in August 2013, Alexis’ employer became aware of his instability. No matter how old an investigation is, anyone with a favorably adjudicated NACI or NACLC (or better) federal background investigation can be granted an HSPD-12 PIV card without any additional vetting, provided they have not had a break-in-service of more than 24 months. There are requirements for people with security clearances, their coworkers, and their supervisors to report through security channels matters that affect security clearance eligibility. Background investigations for Secret clearances are very limited when compared to background investigations for Top Secret clearances.
Seattle police records indicated that Alexis was arrested for malicious mischief and unlawfully discharge of a firearm, but the records were never reviewed as part of Alexis’ 2007 NACLC investigation for his Secret clearance.
Alexis’ military supervisors were aware of issues affecting his clearance eligibility while in the Navy Reserves. New federal investigative standards were approved in December 2012, but may take more than a year to implement. The President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy have ordered broad reviews of the security clearance process.
All federal employees and contractors with PIV cards or in positions of Public Trust should be required to immediately report potentially disqualifying events or conditions to their security officer. All personnel with security clearances, in Public Trust positions, or granted PIV cards should be required to submit a form similar to an SF86C to their security officer once a year, indicating whether any potentially disqualifying events have occurred. Four significant pending changes to federal personnel security policy were mentioned in the published minutes of the March 2013 NISPPAC meeting. Although the revised FIS was mentioned by Sowell, nothing was actually reported in the published minutes of the NISPPAC meeting regarding it. With the December 2012 signing of the revised Federal Investigative Standards by Director John Berry and Director James Clapper, the Suitability and Security Executive Agents, our focus will be on reengineering our business processes to implement the standards in a phased and fiscally responsible way, directly supporting the mandate to implement a five-tiered investigative model aligning the investigative requirements for both security clearances and suitability, facilitating reciprocity, and using automation to the maximum extent practicable. The use of the words, “the mandate to implement a five-tiered investigative model” seems somewhat strange, since OPM and ODNI have the authority to establish the investigative standards and there was no indication that a higher authority had ordered a five-tiered structure.
One can only speculate at why OPM and ODNI chose to withhold the details of this revision of the FIS when previous versions have appeared in publicly accessible documents. The NISPPAC report indicated that the revised AG is in the final stages of coordination and may be promulgated via Security Executive Agent Directive 200 (SEAD 200) later this year. Specific guidance regarding medical marijuana use and its relationship to the Bond Amendment. In March 2013 ODNI began SEAAC (Security Executive Agent Advisory Committee) coordination of the first-ever National Reporting Requirements document, which will eventually be issued as SEAD 400. In November 2012 a new ODNI national polygraph policy was in coordination with a national polygraph working group, and in March 2013 the policy was being coordinated with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
In July 2012 a series of news articles appeared alleging abuse of polygraph procedures at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). It was initially anticipated that the new policy would be issued in about February 2013, but OMB coordination has resulted in some delays.
Over the past few decades the mental health question on the most commonly used national security clearance application form has become increasingly complex as the form itself has grown incredibly long and detailed.
The 1964 version of DOD Form 398 (DD398), “Statement of Personal History,” was only 4 pages long and contained no question regarding mental health or mental health treatment.
Have you ever been a patient (whether or not formally committed) in any institution primarily devoted to the treatment of mental, emotional, psychological, or personality disorders? Several years later DOD stopped using the DD398 and began using the 1995 version of the Standard Form 86 (SF86), “Questionnaire For National Security Positions,” in a computer-based form known as the “Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire” (EPSQ). In the last 7 years, have you consulted with a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, etc.) or have you consulted with another health care provider about a mental health related condition? If you answered “Yes,” provide an entry for each treatment to report, unless the consultation(s) involved only marital, family, or grief counseling, not related to violence by you.
In 2004 DOD discontinued the EPSQ and started using the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) computer-based version of the SF86—the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP).
In the last 7 years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition? Like the previous version of the SF86, each period of treatment had to be listed separately and required dates and contact information for the medical practitioner.
In December 2010 another revision to the SF86 was approved, which increased the number of pages in the print version from 17 to 121. Many federal agencies had been routinely “declining” to grant interim security clearances to applicants who listed any mental health treatment on their SF86, because they did not consider an interim clearance declination to be a clearance denial. In March 2013 OPM posted a 60 day notice and request for comments for proposed changes to the SF86 that would completely change Question 21.
In the last seven (7) years, have you had a mental health condition that would cause an objective observer to have concern about your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness in relation to your work? A “Yes” or “I don’t know” response to the question requires detailed information regarding any treatment. Because changes to the SF86 can take a year or more to implement, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and OPM issued an interim change to the instructions for Question 21 in April 2013 to create an immediate exception for victims of sexual assault. Since 1981 when the mental health question was first included in a security clearance application form, the question has been expanded and later qualified in an effort to request from the applicant only information relevant to a security clearance determination and to remove perceived disincentives to seeking certain types of treatment. The proposed change to the SF86 removes the exceptions and aligns Question 21 more closely to the “Psychological Conditions” criterion (Guideline I) of the Adjudicative Guidelines. Perhaps the time has come to eliminate the mental health question completely or at least temporarily until it can be properly studied by the Defense Personnel Security Research Center.
The SF86 does not ask questions about every potentially disqualifying factor listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines, such as security violations, susceptibility to blackmail, association with criminals, and undetected criminal conduct. Serious mental health conditions, not controlled by treatment, often surface in security clearance investigations due to conduct covered under other criteria in the Adjudicative Guidelines, such as criminal arrests, employment rule violations, financial delinquencies, drug and alcohol abuse, inappropriate behavior in the workplace, etc.
During 2012 the Government continued to take small steps toward fulfilling the goals of the Joint Security Suitability Reform effort that began in 2007. All nine DoD polygraph programs are in full compliance with DoD polygraph policy requirements….
All eleven DoD Central Adjudication Facilities (CAFs) are in full compliance with DoD policies and restrictions regarding the use of polygraph results. No instances of adverse administrative actions or adverse personnel actions being taken against DoD-affiliated personnel whom either refused to take or failed to successfully complete a polygraph examination.
41,057 examinations for personal security screening (PSS) were conducted, resulting in “No Significant Response” (NSR) in 94% of cases.
Federal Investigative Notice (FIN) 12-04 — The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it had added a check of their Central Verification System (CVS) database as a standard component of the National Agency Check (NAC).
TSA Background Investigation Backlog — A news story reported that the “Transportation Security Administration confirmed Wednesday it had such a backlog of background security checks, airport employers were allowed to hire any employee needed. GAO Report on Background Investigations — The General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the cost of “Background Investigations” (GAO-12-197) conducted by OPM. DSS Stakeholders Report 2012 — The Defense Security Service (DSS) released its “Stakeholder Report 2012,” detailing its recent achievements.
Federal Investigative Notice (FIN) 12-05 — OPM announced it “will implement a Social Security Number (SSN) search as a new National Agency Check (NAC) item. Revision of OF306 — A new version of the OF306 (Declaration for Federal Employment), dated: October 2011, replaced the previous version.
NISPPAC Report — The National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee released the report of their March meeting that included statistics on contractor security clearance processing. Senate Hearing on Security Clearance Reform — Testimony before the Senate subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia was presented by representatives of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), GAO, DOD, OPM, and DNI. New CI Polygraph Question — The Director of National Intelligence announced he was mandating that a question related to unauthorized disclosure of classified information be added to the counterintelligence polygraph used by all intelligence agencies that administer the examination (CIA, DIA, DOE, FBI, NGA, NRO, and NSA). Guidance on Submitting Periodic Reinvestigation — It was announced that “Effective 1 August 2012, DISCO will only accept requests for periodic reinvestigations that are within 90 days of the investigation anniversary date.
Eligibility Pending — Also effective August 1, 2012 DISCO began entering a status of “Eligibility Pending” when an interim clearance is “declined.” DISCO states that Eligibility Pending “Indicates the investigation request has been received and reviewed for potentially posting an Interim Determination. Tech America Reciprocity Survey — In a recently released survey Tech America reported on the continuing problems companies experience in clearance reciprocity between federal agencies, as well as clearance processing times. DOD CAF Consolidation Begins — Operational consolidation of 7 of the 11 DOD Central Adjudication Facilities (CAFs) began in August. Mental Health Counseling — On 4 September 2012 the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) issued a memorandum, Subject: Department of Defense Guidance on Question 21, Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions. Federal Investigations Notice 12-07 — OPM announced FY2013 prices charged to other Government agencies for OPM investigative products.

ODNI Annual Report to Congress — ODNI issued its second annual “Report on Security Clearance Determinations” to Congress.
NISPPAC Report — The National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee released the report of their July meeting.
In mid-February 2013, the report of the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee’s (NISPPAC) November 2012 meeting was posted at the Information Security Oversight Office’s (ISOO) website. The Defense Security Service (DSS) reported that some intelligence community (IC) members are now using the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) for submitting their Periodic Reinvestigations, which is a departure from past procedures.
Item #3 (above) will add about two to three weeks to interim Secret clearance eligibility determinations, which currently take about 3 days for NISP cases. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that the draft Security Executive Agent Directive 600 (SEAD 600), National Reciprocity Policy, is in development and preparing for informal coordination with the Security Executive Agent Advisory Committee.
ODNI is creating a webpage for reporting reciprocity non-compliance on the Security Executive Agent (SecEA) portion of National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) website.
Except for Top Secret Periodic Reinvestigations (TSPRs), average end-to-end processing times for the fastest 90% of NISP cases remained essentially the same during FY2012. The total number of cases pending adjudication at the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (now known as Industrial Division A of the DOD Consolidated Adjudication Facility—DODCAF) declined from 18,455 in Q1 to 9,009 in Q4 FY2012. Average end-to-end processing times for the fastest 90% of initial clearances for contractors handled by Intelligence Community agencies rose from 103 days in Q1 to 127 days in Q4 FY2012. The average end-to-end processing time for the fastest 90% of Department of Energy (DOE) initial clearances for federal and contractor personnel remained constant during FY2012 at about 72 days. In January 2012 a bill was introduced in the Maryland State Senate that proposed a State income tax credit for costs incurred to obtain federal security clearances. Employers can also claim an annual tax credit of 50% of the costs or $100,000 (whichever is less) for the construction or renovation of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) located in the state.  If multiple SCIFs are involved, the maximum tax credit is limited $250,000 per year. The law provides the basic procedures for applying for the tax credit, but leaves it to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to craft a regulation that defines the exact nature of administrative expenses that will qualify for the tax credit. The law will help smaller Maryland companies improve their clearance processing capabilities.  It is particularly timely, since many small cleared defense contractors have not yet purchased electronic fingerprint capture equipment needed by December 2013 to implement the Secure Web Fingerprint Transmission (SWFT) system as required by the Department of Defense for security clearance processing. Federal agencies require individuals with security clearances to promptly report a wide range of security and suitability issues to their security officers.
The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) receives about 8,000 “incident reports” a year on cleared federal contractors who have had security-related problems.
Appendix 8 is the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.
Any situation related to actual, probable, or possible espionage, sabotage, or subversive activities directed against the United States. For individuals with access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) or other Special Access Programs (SAP) there is an additional requirement to report foreign travel. I’m grateful that my peers in the journalism community saw fit to recognize my reporting with the highest awards of broadcast journalism including the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Reporting and three Alfred I.
My children didn’t think a Peabody Award was cool until comedian and actor Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report received one for political satire. Although Colbert rubbed his Peabody in the face of fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, I would never stoop to such antics. I bring the same dogged tenacity, can-do-attitude, and creativity from journalism to my consulting work today. We advise businesses on how to effectively use Social Media and online video by creating strategies. Brad Besancon, the former Director of Social Media for the Dallas Cowboys, and I cofounded Clairtiti in 2014 to fill a void in social media consulting.
We help our clients create astounding #AudienceSpeak® by using an approach of Listen-Think-Speak.
It’s a successful formula bred from my years in journalism and Brad’s years representing major brands.
We align our client’s business goals with how they should speak with customers online.
Clairiti also serves as the umbrella for producing sports related media products and documentary style videos. I am a frequent speaker and moderator at PubCon which Forbes magazine named as one of the must attend conferences on Social Media and Search Engine Marketing.
Robert Riggs & Veteran Producer John Spark Cohost The Texas Daily news show in Dallas, Texas. The norm for me is working under demanding and difficult conditions–literally under fire. We were also hit by friendly fire from a USAF F-16 that was searching for enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites. 60 Minutes featured me in a report after my investigative series revealed how the Army was covering up the true cause of two friendly fire incidents during the invasion of Iraq.
Patriot Missile batteries killed a Navy F-18 pilot and two British aviators flying a Tornado back to their base in Kuwait after a mission over Iraq.
The Army brass tried to hang the blame on young Lieutenants who like the pilots killed were victims of a flawed weapon system. It was my good fortune to work with a team of highly talented producers, photographers, reporters, and News Directors like Marty Haag and John Miller who were guided by the highest journalistic standards. The FBI in conjunction with the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group asked me to participate on a panel that produced a landmark report entitled “Threats to Symbols of American Democracy” that underscored issues that would later tragically unfold during the 9-11 attacks. The American Bar Association awarded me its Silver Gavel Award in 1994 for “Free To Kill”, a series of investigative reports that uncovered corruption in the Texas parole and prison system.
The three-year investigation exposed how notorious serial killer; Kenneth McDuff had received early parole. The definitive book on serial killer Kenneth McDuff published in the wake of Robert Riggs’ corruption investigation on how McDuff received early parole from the Texas Prison System.
Gary Lavergne the author of Bad Boy from Rosebud praises Robert Riggs for his groundbreaking investigation into how serial killer Kenneth McDuff received parole from the Texas prison system along with dozens of other violent criminals.
American Justice on the Arts & Entertainment network produced an hour-long report about my investigation of McDuff in 1999 and it continues to air today as the series most popular episode.
The reports prompted the federal prosecution of top state officials and the first overhaul of the Texas penal code in twenty years. Legislators enacted a mandatory life sentence for violent offenders named the “McDuff Law” that surely has saved people from harm caused by a revolving door prison system. The Dallas Crime Commission awarded its first ever “Excellence in Crime Reporting Award” to me in 1999. The Commission commended our reports about the origins of an epidemic problem of counterfeit check and identity theft rings in North Texas as well as a landmark documentary about the Mexican black tar heroin traffickers who caused the overdose deaths of dozens of teenagers in an affluent North Dallas suburb. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the Texas Press Association awarded me its “Freedom of Information” award in 1996 for a series of reports that uncovered how the accused killer of a nine-year old girl had been improperly released on early parole. The reports resulted in passage of a sex offender registration and public notification law in Texas. Belo Celebration of 156th Anniversary Recognizes Robert Riggs for his reporting that received recognition with the prestigious Alfred I.
The report became a topic of testimony by the late CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite in a congressional hearing and the ban was revoked by the Pentagon.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, I  served as a legislative assistant and committee investigator for the late Congressman Wright Patman of Texas. Washington Post story on the first Congressional attempt to get to the bottom of what became known as the Watergate Scandal and later prompted President Richard M. Shacklette was the legendary House Investigator that uncovered how President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Sherman Adams, had accepted an expensive vicuna coat and oriental rug from Bernard Goldfine. At the time Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer, was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. Years later, Shacklette was aiding in Patman’s investigation of the Watergate bugging.
As Chief Investigator for the Joint Committee on Defense Production, I held a top-secret security clearance and directed inquires into abuses stemming from the Watergate scandal that contributed to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. My political experience includes work as a field operative in a presidential campaign and management of a congressional campaign. The foundation for my new media work is built on a long association with noted anthropologist, art expert, and filmmaker, the late Edmund Carpenter who contributed the intellectual basis for the media discourse of Marshall McLuhan. Tony explained how the ad tapped into fears people had about Barry Goldwater and nuclear weapons.
The TV spot only aired once and is credited for helping President Lyndon Johnson win election. Clark Mollenhoff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author and syndicated columnist mentored me on my transition from politics to investigative reporting.
Mollenhoff encouraged me to join the Investigative Reporters & Editors where he had played an important role in the formation of the group. Clark Mollenhoff was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, lawyer, syndicated columnist, and Washington, D.C. I owe my first audition tape to the kindness of a fellow Texan, CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer who offered advice and would lend me his Capitol Hill camera crew to shoot standups.
It has been a pleasure to give back to Texas A&M by starting the endowment for the Alan Stacell Creativity Fund which supports student projects outside of the classroom and the endowment for the Professor Rodney Hill Chair in Architecture. I have served on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Architecture, which is home to one of the top Visualization schools in the world. In 2010, The University of Texas at Dallas awarded me a “Certificate in Entrepreneurship” for completing a nine-month course at its Institute for Innovation which is geared to launching start-up ventures.
Like any true Texan from a family of horsemen dating back to the 1920′s, life is best enjoyed in the saddle.
Riding Elk trails on a 4 day horse trek with the Linn Canyon Ranch outfitters through the Gros Ventre Wilderness in Wyoming.
During my grade school years, I would fly from Paris to Dallas aboard a Central Airlines DC-3 every summer to visit my grandparents. Federal employees, military members and government contractors are often required to obtain and hold a security clearance in order to maintain their sensitive position with the government or a secured contractor. Many of our lawyers have held security clearances – meaning they understand the process from personal experience. Investigators scrutinize dependents, friends, relatives and any foreign travel or employment.
The following list describes areas of issue that may need mitigation during the investigation. It is important to be completely honest in detailing past use, including the abuse of prescription and non-prescription drugs as well as the consumption, purchase or selling of illegal drugs. While almost all security clearance candidates hold debt in one form or another, the government scrutinizes the cause and amount of your debt as well as payment history. In many cases involving dual-citizenship, having an experienced attorney at your side may be necessary to negotiate a positive settlement. Behavior that may be deemed reckless including having multiple partners or obtaining partners illegally or through payment will be thoroughly investigated.
Also, use of employer computers to view or download pornographic material may trigger allegations under criminal conduct, personal conduct, and sexual behavior guidelines. While there is no clear number of illegal downloads that reaches the threshold of “disqualifying,” it is very important to be honest throughout the investigation process into your use of pirated and pornographic materials.
We are able to give you honest guidance throughout the application process as well as aggressive representation during denial or revocation hearings. This investigation is non-criminal in nature and covers a defined period of time and normally no more than 10 years into your past.
Once complete, the security clearance questionnaire will be reviewed by agency and government officials for thoroughness and accuracy.
Expect questions related to your family, spouse or personal relationships, health, financial history, overall health, use of alcohol or drugs, and foreign travel or affairs.
It is in your best interest to answer all the questions asked with honesty and as thoroughly as possible. Once notified of the government’s intention to deny your clearance, you must provide a response within a timetable as short as 45 days. The mitigating factors differ depending upon the reasons for denial or revocation, but can relate to infrequency of the act, the completion of counseling programs related to the disqualifying factor, or length of time lapsed.
There are a host of mitigating factors that could prove your eligibility for access to classified information and ultimately grant you a security clearance.
Many of our attorneys hold security clearances themselves and know how it feels to go through the investigative process.
In the event of a denial or revocation of your clearance, we will fight aggressively to prove your trustworthiness and grant you access to the security clearance you deserve. Rinckey will be presenting a CLE at the Employment Law Institute held by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute on April 20, 2012 in Philadelphia, PA.
Such a completed investigation restarts the cycle for a public trust reinvestigation for that person. OPM is assessing its investigative products as part of a Joint Security and Suitability Process Reform effort under E.O. 11-04 appeared to be a permanent retreat from the 3-tier concept approved in December 2008 that relied heavily on expanded automated records checks.  It now appears that FIN 11-04 was only intended as a temporary measure to make some minor changes and clarify the current investigative standards. It means that of the people who make it to the final stages of the security clearance process, 2.5% are denied a clearance.
As a result, today the most time consuming delays normally occur during the adjudication phase of the clearance process.
What I’ve learned is that about 15% of applicants will have their application forms rejected by the Government due to improper or incomplete forms submission, resulting in delays of four to eight weeks before they are required to resubmit their applications, if the job is still available.
With little or no assistance applicants in the “Clean” and “Minor” categories will move swiftly through the system and get their clearances within two to four months. They need to spend about as much effort on the clearance application as they do preparing their tax returns. Knowledgeable, experienced former background investigators can help people reduce the time it takes for their investigations and provide general guidance on issue mitigation, but former Government security clearance adjudicators are better qualified to provide security clearance assistance.
Some of the assistance provided by an attorney may be done by a paralegal whose billing rate should be between $120 and $160 an hour.
These types of tax returns are comparable to clearance cases that are “Clean” or contain only minor unfavorable information. Both cleared personnel and clearance applicants who anticipate problems should seek professional help as early possible. The Navy knew from the investigation that he failed to disclose on his clearance form a May 2004 arrest for malicious mischief in Seattle, WA for which he was never prosecuted. In addition, he was subject twice to Non-Judicial Punishment and at least one former supervisor felt that he displayed indications of mental illness.
His employer would have checked his JPAS (Joint Personnel Adjudication System) record and determined that his Secret clearance was eligible for reinstatement, because his last investigation was less than 10 years old and less than 24 months had elapsed since his Navy clearance was terminated. Usually there’s a security vetting process before a person can be issued a CAC; however, rules implementing HSPD-12 allow Government agencies to issue PIV cards to anyone with a favorably adjudicated NACI or NACLC (or better) investigation without any further investigation or adjudication, provided there has not been a break-in-service of more than 2 years since the investigation. Over the course of his stay Alexis disturbed other guests by knocking on their doors in search of the voices he was hearing. However, insufficient emphasis is placed on these requirements, particularly coworker and supervisor responsibilities, and some requirements are vague. Although federal law requires local law enforcement agencies to disclose arrest records to OPM investigators; it also allows agencies to charge a fee for this service. One of the changes to the standards is the decrease in the periodic reinvestigation interval for Confidential and Secret clearances to 5 years. This will provide standardized basic reporting requirements applicable to all security clearance holders, their coworkers, and their supervisors.
Security officers should have to endorse the form, certifying they are not aware of any other unfavorable information. This could be because the revised FIS is protected as “For Official Use Only “(FOUO) information.
For example there is nothing in Guideline D (Sexual Conduct) that is not adequately addressed under Guideline J (Criminal Conduct), Guideline E (Personal Conduct), and Guideline I (Psychological Conditions). For example Guideline B (Foreign Influence) shares security concerns covered in Guideline C (Foreign Preference), and Guideline L (Outside Activities).
The current AG does not include any mitigating factors specifically for past or present medical marijuana use and provides no exception to the Bond Amendment, which requires clearance denial for any person who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Currently each federal agency has its own self-reporting requirements for cleared personnel. Hopefully SEAD 400 will contain basic reporting requirements for all collateral clearance and SAP clearance holders and allow individual agencies to supplement the basic requirements with agency-unique reporting requirements. The objectives of the new policy are to clarify existing practices for agencies that use the polygraph and to ensure standardization and consistency.
This prompted requests from Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Rush Holt to the DOD Inspector General (IG) and to the ODNI IG to investigate the allegations. NSA is the only DoD agency currently authorized to conduct Expanded Scope Screening (ESS) polygraph examinations. TSA spokesman John Allen was quoted as saying, “At no time was security at risk, and all new employees will still undergo identity verification and be subject to watchlist matching.” Not a very reassuring statement, since it implies that the checks are not being done prior to employment and access.
The SSN search will be conducted as a standard item on all investigations requested with the Standard Form (SF) 86 and will search records regarding the subject of the investigation only. All reported that much progress had been made during the past several years in the areas of clearance processing times, reciprocity, and improving technology. In addition, the sheer volume of security policies that are not coordinated or integrated makes it difficult for those at the field level to ensure consistent and comprehensive policy implementation. The Department of Homeland Security was cited as the most problematic, followed by the non-DOD Intelligence Community agencies.
In the memo the SECDEF clearly stated that “mental health counseling alone cannot form the basis of a denial of an interim security clearance.
More than 4.8 million people held security clearances for access to classified information in FY2011. DISCO reported a 22% increasing in pending adjudications from Q1 FY2012 to April 2012 and a significant decrease in the case rejection rate since November 2011. It also appears that erroneous statements have been made to the effect that DSS is directing contractors to treat the signing of such petitions as reportable adverse information.” At the time DSS indicated they were reviewing the situation, then they removed the posting a couple of months later without explanation. DSS used this writing style in their “Report of Investigation” successfully from the early 1990?s to 2004. The first reading of the bill (SB296) proposed a requirement for “the Governor of Maryland to make a $6,000,000 appropriation in FY2014 and FY21015 for the tax credit, applying the Act to all taxable years beginning after December 31, 2011.” The bill was unclear as to what costs would qualify for the tax credit and who could claim it.
The employee is concerned that he or she may be the target of exploitation by a foreign entity. Issues identified as potentially disqualifying conditions under the 13 criteria in the Adjudicative Guidelines must be reported. But there are differences between the “issue” questions on the SF86 and the potentially disqualifying conditions in the Adjudicative Guidelines.
Some intelligence agencies require self-reporting of any contact with individuals from “designated” countries and visits to any foreign embassy or consulate.
Shacklette mentored me on Capitol Hill and provided wisdom that helped this young eager investigator avoid political minefields. BUT JUDGES LACK THE AUTHORITY TO OUTRIGHT DISMISS THE SUITS WITHOUT AN EXPENSIVE REVIEW PROCESS. In the last decade, the federal government has greatly increased the number and type of positions that require security clearances, making it difficult for many to be employed or stay employed in their federal positions.
Further, just because you have been granted a clearance does not guarantee you’ll have it for the remainder of your career. The attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC are available throughout the application and appeals process to help determine if you have any mitigating factors. Any illegal drug use during periods of time that you hold a security clearance, no matter the level, puts your clearance in jeopardy. Due to the sudden downturn in the economy, many candidates or cleared professionals find themselves buried under mounds of credit card debt, failed car payments or even home foreclosure.
It is highly important that all foreign information, including travel, is accurately disclosed to determine allegiance to the U.S. Sexual orientation is not a disqualifying factor and any discriminatory conduct by deciding officials may be utilized during the clearance appeals process in your favor.
More importantly, now that you are aware of the seriousness of downloading illegal materials, avoid any illegal downloads in the future. The information collected will be used to determine affirmative your eligibility for access to classified information and suitability for employment.
Your application will be assigned an investigator who will personally verify the information you provided through a thorough background investigation.
When filing or responding to an appeal, you must submit a thorough brief that emphasizes the mitigating factors contained in the record and cites relevant legal precedents.
We frequently represent clients in the appeal process and at hearings in front of DOHA, numerous federal agencies and administrative bodies, and in federal court. Others will rely entirely on the guidance provided by their sponsor’s security officer, however thorough or limited it might be. Many people don’t bother to apply for jobs that require a clearance, because they believe there are factors in their life that would inevitably result in a clearance denial. Adjudicators struggle to decide cases that lack sufficient information or contain unresolved issues. About 30% will be screened out by employers or declined an interim clearance and not get hired. Without assistance those in the Moderate category will see their cases drag out for several months before their clearance is finally granted, and those in the Major category may wait a year and some will ultimately be denied a clearance.
There are many well-intentioned people who write articles and answer questions on various blogs, but their knowledge is often based on their personal experiences as clearance applicants or from reading a few Government documents or articles by others.
A well-qualified independent security clearance consultant will charge a little more than an attorney’s billing rate for a paralegal. For cases ranging from single moderate to multiple major issues, a security clearance consultant will charge from $300 to $1,500 and an experienced attorney will charge about twice that much. Alexis claimed the arrest occurred because he deflated another person’s car tires and that he didn’t disclose it on his clearance form because the charge was dismissed. At his employer’s request, the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office would have reinstated Alexis’ clearance within a few days without any additional investigation or adjudication.
Failure to report such matters is a security violation, but when they’re discovered, people are rarely held accountable for their failure to report them.Ten years is too long an interval between periodic reinvestigations for a Secret clearance.
Currently the standard OPM investigation for Top Secret clearances costs $3,959; whereas, the standard investigation for Secret clearances costs $210.
Yet none of these issues were ever reported to the appropriate Navy security clearance officials.
The exact scope of future investigations has not been made public, but it’s possible that the disparity between investigations for Top Secret and Secret clearances may narrow. Supervisors should be required to submit annual certificates to their security officers, stating that they have reported all potentially disqualifying information pertaining to their subordinates. The current AG, approved in December 2005, is in need of general updating to remove redundancies and accommodate social and cultural changes.
These are lists of conduct and conditions that could affect a person’s clearance eligibility and must be reported to their security officer.
The current interagency polygraph policy is based on a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the 18 federal agencies that operated polygraph programs and is primarily focused on reciprocity issues. No action was taken to implement changes to Periodic Reinvestigation intervals for Confidential and Secret clearances as announced in late 2011. The problem seems reminiscent of the situation that occurred several years ago when OPM and TSA inadvertently failed to conduct criminal record checks as part of the background investigations on hundreds of TSA employees.
OPM increased their average weighted price of investigations about 4% per year during the past five years.
Question 9, which previously asked for criminal offenses that occurred within the past 10 years, was reduced to 7 years. Inventories of both initial clearance investigations and periodic reinvestigations at DISCO have remained the same compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Employers can also claim an annual tax credit of 50% of the costs or $100,000 (whichever is less) for the construction or renovation of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). DNI also reported establishing a reciprocity web page hosted on the Security Executive Agent Website that provides education and awareness, a checklist of exceptions, policy references, and examples of non-reciprocity issues. While compliance with existing security policies remains a central issue, consumers at the field level are often required to interpret outdated security policy guidance to make it relevant to existing organizational requirements.” The report did not make any recommendations because it was felt that actions were already well underway to significantly consolidate and improve security policy under a Defense Security Enterprise and with the creation of the Defense Security Executive. CAF consolidation affects the Army, Navy, Air Force, Joint Chief of Staff, Washington Headquarters Services, Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office, and a part of the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals.
This reflects about a 3% increase over the previous fiscal year, but the increase might be attributable to improved data gathering rather than an actual increase. It was lauded by many security clearance adjudicators as making reports easier and faster to read, because of the use of headings, sub-headings, captions, bullets, and lots of white space.
Self-reporting is different from the requirement to disclose unfavorable information on an SF86 when applying for a security clearance. Most of these incident reports are based on information self-reported by the cleared contractors to their security officers.
Many of the criteria in the Adjudicative Guidelines are clear and require no interpretation, such as a drunk driving arrest, illegal use of drugs, security violation, acquiring foreign citizenship, inability to satisfy debts, and employment or service to a foreign government or company. For example: 1) All situations listed in the “Financial Records” section of the SF86 are events that must be self-reported, except for the question regarding credit counseling if a person has not become delinquent in paying debts.
Senator William Proxmire thanks Robert Riggs for his work as Chief Investigator for the Joint Committee on Defense Production.
Broussard is pictured with his Stearman BiPlane that played an important role training pilots during World War II. ANOTHER SUED OVER THE USE OF RAZOR WIRE ON THE PRISON FENCE CLAIMING PRISONERS COULD HURT THEMSELVES TRYING TO ESCAPE.
A security clearance can be taken away at anytime due to numerous factors that call into question your ability to work in a sensitive position.
While moderate gambling is socially acceptable, gambling beyond one’s means or a compulsive need to gamble are grounds for denial or revocation.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against due to your sexual orientation, the attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC may be able to help. Neil will provide training on topics ranging from EEO Complaints to Security Clearance Revocations. Some potential applicants fail to receive clearance sponsorship, because they are screened out of the process by prospective employers. They are often faced with the choice of further delaying a case by requesting additional information or making a poor decision based on an inadequate investigation. About 50%—the fortunate ones—will receive an interim clearance within a week and a final Secret clearance within six to eight weeks of submitting an SF86. They also know how much issue mitigation is required to overcome potentially disqualifying factors and how it needs to be presented to achieve the best possible results in the shortest possible time.
So, Alexis was probably granted a CAC based solely on a check of his JPAS record, which showed a favorably adjudicated NACLC from 2008. In such cases OPM investigators must search local criminal court record in place of police records. Alexis’ employer was aware that Alexis was emotionally “unstable” and had a history of paranoid episodes, but they also failed to report the matter through security clearance channels or take any other action to restrict Alexis’ access. It’s also possible that all investigations may be required to include checks of the most complete criminal history repository of law enforcement agencies (i.e. These reporting requirements can vary dramatically from agency to agency, and major differences exist for personnel with collateral clearances versus Special Access Program (SAP) clearances.
In late July 2012 the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) directed an evaluation of the use of federal personnel security polygraph programs, the results of which led to the DNI’s decision to create a national polygraph policy.
Merely consulting a mental health professional is not, standing alone, evidence of such a condition.
This was a pretty remarkable feat considering that they significantly reduced turnaround time on their investigations during the same period. The form now states it can be used for contractor employment fitness determinations (a practice that has been in effect for several years). Previous meetings only included information about processing times for contractor clearances handled by DISCO and OPM.
More than half of the survey respondents reported improvement in clearance processing times, but an equal percentage reported processing times greater than 180 days.
The new agency is designated the DOD Consolidated Adjudication Facility (DODCAF) and composed of various divisions representing the former CAFs. The most striking statistic was the 4,487 government and contractor clearances pending for over one year at CIA.
Once DSS transferred its investigative personnel and responsibility to OPM, investigators had to revert to the old way of writing—wall-to-wall text with only occasional breaks between paragraphs. 2) Most mental health counseling that must be listed on an SF86, does not necessarily have to be self-reported. Proxmire and Rep Wright Patman, the Chairman of the House Banking Commitee, served as joint chairmen. Henry apprentice wrangler, Marlene Broderick former lawmaker, Beth Riggs Texas horsewoman, Bryn Anderson, Robert Riggs, and Peter Linn of Teton Outfitters Linn Canyon Ranch. Examples include defaulting on your mortgage payments, accruing debt beyond your means or providing a false answer on your SF-86. Others, who initially receive sponsorship, have sponsorship withdrawn before a final clearance decision is made, because they fail to receive an interim clearance. Questionable decisions can sit on a supervisory adjudicator’s desk for weeks before they are approved or returned to the adjudicator for more work. The best published sources of information are Government documents, but searching for them on the internet is difficult, unless you already know which documents you need or know the precise “keywords” to find them.
The few applicants whose cases make it to the administrative hearing or personal appearance stage of adjudication are best served by the assistance of an attorney who specializes and has experience in representing security clearance applicants. Nevertheless, professional assistance for cases involving moderate to major issues is much less costly than weeks or months of lost wages caused by clearance processing delays and missed employment opportunities. Police at the Newport Naval Station were notified of bizarre conduct by a contractor who had access to their base, but they failed to take appropriate action. The DNI subsequently convened an interagency polygraph working group to develop the new policy.
This report also contained information about contractor clearance processing times for the Intelligence Community agencies and for the Department of Energy.
The data suggests that most of the delays occur during clearance adjudication rather than investigation. Since DISCO has security clearance authority for one million federal contractors, a mere 8,000 cases a year suggests that the majority of security-related incidents go unreported. For example: 1) When does a foreign connection create a potential for conflict of interest or a heightened risk of foreign influence? IT’S NOT THE KIND OF LITERARY PUBLICATION THAT CORRECTIONSbPROFESSIONALS THINK CONVICTED SEX OFFENDERS SHOULD SUBSCRIBE TO. An unknown percentage of applicants who are lucky enough to retain sponsorship despite having an interim clearance declined, later drop out of the process, because the unfavorable information in their background delays the process for so long that either they or their prospective employer cannot wait any longer for a final clearance decision. If you find them, you have to be able to decipher what they say.A well-written book on security clearances will cite the relevant Government documents and explain them.
Reciprocal acceptance of security clearances between Intelligence Community agencies remained a significant problem. It currently handles security clearance and sensitive national security position determinations. One reason for this is that cleared personnel often don’t know what types of events must be self-reported. Unfortunately, even a well-written book cannot address all aspects of the clearance process.
Many think that it’s unnecessary to report any unfavorable information until the next periodic reinvestigation for their clearance. 3) Is attending an annual family reunion “association with persons involved in criminal activity” if a drug-using cousin is also present?
There are dozens of Government agencies that grant security clearances, and each one has a slightly different process and interpretation of Government policy.

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