A security clearance is a determination by the United States Government that a person or company is eligible for access to classified information. The term “eligibility for access” means the same thing as security clearance and is used in Government record systems and by Government personnel security specialists. There are two types of clearances: Personnel Security Clearances (PCLs) and Facility Security Clearances (FCLs).
Public Trust (not a classified clearance)
Department of Energy primarily issues “L,” and “Q” Access Authorizations, which are roughly equivalent to Secret and Top Secret clearances, respectively.
No, you must have an employer that requires you to have a clearance, and they will sponsor you. You cannot just apply for a Security Clearance, there must exist a need for one.
DOD CAF is where security clearances are adjudicated for Department of Defense Contractors, Military, and Federal personnel.
A SOR is a list of concerns that the Government has concerning continued access to Classified Information. A SOR is issued when the Government has a belief that it is in the best interest of the Government to revoke/deny your clearance. A SOR is an opportunity for the applicant to respond to any allegations the Government has.
Normally, 30 days are given to respond to the SOR. However, due to the severity of some cases extensions to respond become necessary. Normally extensions are granted for an additional 30 days beyond the original due date. You have to request an extension, as they are not automatic.
This varies based on the severity of the case. CAF should have an answer back within 90 days, sometimes longer.
You will have an opportunity to present your case in front of an Administrative Judge. If you are a Government Contractor then the Judge will make the final decision on either to grant or deny your clearance. If you are in the Military or a Federal Employee, the Judge will make the recommendation and send the recommendation to the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB), who will make the final decision to grant or deny your clearance.
The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals is comprised primarily of attorneys (Department Counsel), Administrative Judges, and administrative support personnel. If your clearance is not favorably adjudicated by the CAF, then the case gets turned over to DOHA. DOHA receives numerous cases (approximately 3-4 thousand a year) for the most problematic cases that will be heard in front of a Government Appointed Administrative Judge. Decisions are based on evidence presented at a hearing requested by the applicant. DOHA Administrative Judges also preside over “Personal Appearances” (similar to hearings) of clearance applicants appealing clearance denials or revocations by other divisions of DOD CAF.
If you are a Government Contractor, you have an opportunity to appeal the Judge’s decision and must be requested, as it is not automatic. If you are Military or a Federal Employee, you do not have an appeal opportunity.
No, after one year of your clearance denial/revocation, you will have an opportunity to re-apply for a clearance. You must request to re-apply and start the SF-86 process over just like you did when you first applied for a clearance.
No, you will have to go through the same process as you first did when you first applied. It is a little more difficult, because the issues that had your clearance denied/revoked must be favorably adjudicated. If you have had any new incident’s that have occurred from the date your clearance was denied/revoked up until your re-application, your clearance will be more difficult to receive a favorable decision.
The application form (SF-86) (Questionnaire for National Security Positions), requires personal identifying data, as well as information regarding citizenship, residence, education, and employment history; family and associates, and foreign connections/travel. Additionally, it asks for information about criminal records, illegal drug involvement, financial delinquencies, certain types of mental health treatment, alcohol-related incidents and counseling, military service, prior clearances and investigations, civil court actions, misuse of computer systems, and subversive activities. The number of years of information required on the form varies from question to question—many require 7 years, some require 10 years, and others are not limited to any period of time.