Having a security clearance is a sign that you can be trusted and demonstrates that the government has faith that you are able and willing to safeguard information that could have an impact on national security.
In order to maintain your security clearance, a periodic reinvestigation is required every 5 years for TOP SECRET, 10 years for SECRET, and 15 years for CONFIDENTIAL. Determining whether to continue to grant eligibility for a security clearance is based on a common sense judgment and careful consideration of several factors, each of which is to be evaluated in the context of the “whole person.”
The process for evaluating the whole person encompasses several factors including the following:
- Allegiance to the United States
- Possible Foreign Influence or Preference
- Sexual Behavior
- Personal Conduct
- Financial Considerations – Credit Reports and Rating
- Alcohol Use and Drug Involvement
- Psychological Conditions
- Criminal Conduct
- History of Handling and Use of Protected Information
- Other Personal or Political Activities
Although the government requires a regularly scheduled reinvestigation to maintain your clearance, any event or situation which calls any of the above factors into question can trigger an investigation and will likely lead to a loss of your clearance. This is very common in the military and often leads to a discharge or change in military occupation or job rating. This can also happen in civilian employment, except the result is likely a loss of employment and future opportunities.
Studies show that maintaining your security clearance can increase your salary by $15,000 or more. It would be a shame to let a lapse of judgment or your personal associations jeopardize your clearance. Keeping the previous factors in mind, can help you avoid losing your “golden ticket.”