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The Importance of Properly Completing Security Clearance Forms

Aug 22, 2013

When applying or re-applying for a security clearance, it is very important that one spends enough time on his or her application in order to properly complete their security clearance submission.  Oftentimes, there can be mistakes that result from not spending enough time in fully reviewing and completing the Standard Form 86 (SF-86) or Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) paperwork submission.  These mistakes can significantly delay or seriously affect an individual’s ability to obtain or maintain a security clearance.

The e-QIP is a web-based system designed to replace the paper format for the processing of standard investigative forms.  The e-QIP is now used for conducting background investigations for federal security clearances, suitability concerns, and other purposes. The e-QIP allows a user to electronically enter and submit their investigative data through a secure Internet connection to the requesting agency. The e-QIP is the electronic submission that essentially replaces the paper version of the SF-86.

One of the most frequent pieces of advice that we provide to our security clearance clients is that it is important for them to be truthful and complete in their security clearance application. Usually, issues that arise that seem major are far less significant than the problems that arise when an individual is less than honest in their security clearance application.  It can be very difficult to overturn an adverse finding based on lack of candor.

In addition, mistakes can be made when the SF-86 or e-QIP is completed too quickly or without adequate preparation.  When a mistake is made, security clearance authorities (DoDCAF, CIA, NSA, etc.) can view the omission as intentional in nature and raise an issue of truthfulness or lack of full disclosure even if the mistake was unintentional.  Therefore, before the SF-86 or e-QIP is completed (or even started), it should be fully reviewed with the assistance of counsel who is familiar with the security clearance process, particularly if there are potential issues.

Generally, the questions asked can have more than one meaning in the context of an individual issue.  Other tips for the proper completion of the SF-86 or e-QIP include obtaining information on prior employers, contact information for friends and relatives, and any documents related to information that must be disclosed (e.g., an existing tax lien or arrest record that must be disclosed).

When problematic issues arise in the security clearance application process, such as if an individual is facing a 5-year reinvestigation and has had a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in the interim, it is important to obtain the advice of counsel prior to completing and submitting one’s SF-86 or e-QIP given that the issues will be an important part of the new investigation.

Berry & Berry, PLLC advises and represents individuals on issues involving the proper completion and submission of the SF-86 or e-QIP security clearance application, background investigations, and security clearance denials and revocations.  Please contact the firm at (703) 668-0070 or www.berrylegal.com to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the security clearance process.

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