There are three federal security clearance levels: confidential, secret and top secret.

Most people don't need a security clearance; however, it is necessary for some employees and job seekers.

Some law enforcement jobs, state and federal government positions as well as some jobs created by government contracts expose employees to knowledge that, if released, could adversely impact national security. Therefore, it is important for those employees or employment candidates to receive a thorough background check.

Application Process

A person must be employed and sponsored by a government agency or a cleared contractor doing business with the government to be eligible for a security clearance.

As an exception, a candidate who has been given and accepted a binding offer of employment may be submitted for a clearance. Employment must start within thirty days of the clearance receipt.

Once a cleared contractor determines that an employee or candidate for employment needs access to sensitive material, the contractor's Facility Security Officer submits an investigation request to the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS). The employee must complete the clearance application in the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP). The FSO then reviews the completed e-QIP and forwards to the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO).

If DISCO approves the request, it is released to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for investigation. Results of the investigation are returned to DISCO. DISCO either grants a clearance or provides the information to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) for further adjudication.

Expediting the Process

There really is no way to expedite the process but the applicant can take steps not to impede the investigation. In order to prepare for the electronic questionnaire, (e-QIP) an applicant can get and review or complete a paper copy of the application form (Standard Form 86---SF86). The form can be found on line at When completing the e-QIP, all information must be filled out completely and honestly. Nothing, positive or negative, should be withheld. Often an applicant will forget short term employment, residence or educational information which will add time to the process when discovered during the investigation.

The applicant should also get and review their current credit report to assure that there is nothing on the report that could cause a delay. There are thirteen guidelines covering such things as alcohol consumption, drug involvement, financial considerations and criminal conduct spelt out in the document, "Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information", issued on December 29, 2005. The guidelines explain disqualifying and mitigating conditions. An applicant with any of the disqualifying points should review and list the mitigating circumstances on the application.

Security Clearance Status

Security clearances are not easy to get and they should not be. Investigations take time and an applicant must have patience and understand that national security should not be jeopardised by hasty investigations. An applicant cannot directly pursue the status of the request.

The Facility Security Officer (FSO) may inquire about the security clearance application status by checking the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) or the Security and Investigations Index (SII). As a last resort, the FSO can telephone the inquiry to the DOD Security Service Center.