Security Clearance Denial

Clearance Holders: Disclose All Delinquent Accounts – or Risk Clearance Denial

If you are a security clearance applicant or a current clearance holder, you need to be aware of your financial situation. Too often I have heard the excuse that “my spouse manages the household bills and checkbook.” News flash: the spouse is not the one undergoing a security clearance background investigation.

Under the adjudicative guidelines, “financial considerations” is by far the top issue that results in a denial for clearance eligibility. “Lack of candor” is the next top issue, and is often paired with finances as an issue at appeal hearing. The financial section questions on the SF-86 are very clear, yet applicants still choose to ignore or not disclose all of their delinquent debts – even when they know they will probably come to light.

In a recent Department of Energy (DOE) appeal case, the applicant failed to disclose the following delinquent accounts: eleven medical accounts; five collection accounts; and five charge-off accounts. When questioned about these accounts, he admitted to intentionally omitting them for fear of losing his clearance and job. He further claimed he didn’t list some of them because he had listed them previously and did not have to revisit the information. His spouse testified she was in charge of the household bills and was also not aware of the delinquent accounts. The applicant also claimed the investigator was overly aggressive and badgered him during the interview in which he admitted to intentionally not disclosing the debts.

The judge in this case opined that the applicant did not mitigate the lack of candor and personal conduct issues. Ironically, had the applicant disclosed the debts he probably, would have retained his security clearance eligibility; the total amount of the delinquent accounts was not a large sum and would have been mitigated.