Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session: Obtaining a Security Clearance—It’s All in the Details

Bookmark and Share

Q:

I have maintained my security clearance for over 10 years. I was recently hired for a position which required a Top Secret/SCI clearance. About five years ago, I had some back pain while visiting a friend’s home. I was offered a pain reliever and I took it. I found out afterwards that the pain reliever was prescription. This only happened one time. When asked on my SF-86 clearance form if I had ever taken prescription medicine without a prescription, I was unsure of how to answer, so I said no. I disclosed what happened in my interview, though. There are no other issues in question. Do I have a chance to obtain a clearance still?

A:

You do still have a chance to obtain a clearance, but how good that chance is depends on the details. If the facts are as innocuous as you describe, then I do not believe that the one-time inadvertent consumption of the prescription medicine will be an issue. What could be an issue is your inaccurate reply on the SF-86 form. Your failure to provide a truthful and candid answer to that question may result in an unfavorable clearance decision.

Disqualifying conditions may include the deliberate omission, concealment or falsification of relevant facts on the SF-86. An applicant could mitigate security concerns by making a prompt, good faith effort to correct the SF-86 before being confronted with the facts. Therefore, if you were confused or unsure how to respond to the question, and you were immediately candid with the interview, the security concerns may be mitigated and you could be granted a clearance.

This response is written by Michael S. Causey, associate attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C., a federal employment law firm.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

Leave a Reply

PLEASE NOTE! Do not submit ANY questions via the Comments form. Instead, please send your questions directly to lawyer@federaltimes.com. Questions submitted via the Comments form will NOT be answered!